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Int J Mol Sci. 2012 Oct 23;13(10):13737-47. doi: 10.3390/ijms131013737.

The criteria to confirm the role of Epstein-Barr virus in nasopharyngeal carcinoma initiation.

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State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, 651 Dongfeng East Road, Guangzhou 510060, China.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), but it remains obscure whether EBV is a viral cause of, or only an accompaniment of, NPC. We will discuss the accumulated evidence pointing to the relationship between EBV infection and NPC initiation from epidemiologic, pathogenic, molecular oncogenic, and experimental animal studies. We believe that convincing evidence from these perspectives must be provided before we can ascertain the causal role of EBV infection in NPC. Specifically, (1) epidemiological studies should reveal EBV infection as a risk factor; (2) the introduction of EBV into an animal model should produce NPC; (3) in the animal model NPC, the main molecular event(s) or the involved signaling pathway(s) should be identical to that in human NPC; and (4) finally and most importantly, prevention of EBV infection or clearance of EBV from infected individuals must be able to reduce the incidence rate of NPC.

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