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Int J Cancer. 1978 Dec;22(6):662-8.

Long-term T-cell-mediated immunity to Epstein-Barr virus in man. I. Complete regression of virus-induced transformation in cultures of seropositive donor leukocytes.


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from donors of known serological status with respect to EB virus were exposed to the virus in vitro and then cultured at various cell concentrations. All cultures from nine seronegative adult and 12 foetal donors gave rise to cell lines following subculture 4 weeks post infection. In contrast, seropositive donor cultures seeded at the higher cell concentrations developed foci of proliferating EBNA-positive cells within the first 1--2 weeks but thereafter regressed completely and subcultures made after 4 weeks never gave rise to cell lines. Out of 18 seropositive donors tested, 15 showed regression in all cultures seeded at 10(6) cells/ml and above, and with the other three donors a proportion of replicate cultures regressed. T-cell depletion and reconstitution experiments showed that the effect was absolutely dependent upon the presence in the cultures of T cells from these seropositive donors. The results strongly suggest that the regression phenomenon is an in vitro expression of long-term T-cell-mediated immunity to EB virus which the large majority, if not all, infected individuals possess.

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