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Rev Med Virol. 2008 Sep-Oct;18(5):305-19. doi: 10.1002/rmv.582.

Measuring Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) load: the significance and application for each EBV-associated disease.

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Department of Virology Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan.


Because Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is ubiquitous and persists latently in lymphocytes, simply detecting EBV is insufficient to diagnose EBV-associated diseases. Therefore, measuring the EBV load is necessary to diagnose EBV-associated diseases and to explore EBV pathogenesis. Due to the diverse biology of EBV, the significance of measuring EBV DNA and the optimal type of specimen differ among EBV-associated diseases. Recent advances in molecular technology have enabled the EBV genome to be quantitated rapidly and accurately. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a rapid and reliable method to quantify DNA and is widely used not only as a diagnostic tool, but also as a management tool for EBV-associated diseases. However, each laboratory currently measures EBV load with its own "homebrew" system, and there is no consensus on sample type, sample preparation protocol, or assay units. The EBV real-time PCR assay system must be standardised for large-scale studies and international comparisons.

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