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Transplantation. 1995 Feb 27;59(4):519-24.

Viral and immunologic aspects of Epstein-Barr virus infection in pediatric liver transplant recipients.

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Transplantation Immunobiology Laboratory, California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco 94115.


Pediatric allograft recipients in particular are at increased risk for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated disorders. Early identification and diagnosis of EBV-associated disorders is critical, since disease progression can often be halted by reduction of immunosuppression. In this study we examined viral and immunologic parameters of EBV infection in the circulation of pediatric liver recipients to identify factors associated with disease. Peripheral blood DNA from pediatric liver recipients was analyzed by PCR for the EBV genes coding for the nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1) and the viral capsid antigen gp220. Sequences for these viral genes could be readily detected in the circulation of 36.5% of patients. Moreover, identification of the EBV genome was associated with symptomatic infection, suggesting that circulating EBV may be a useful marker of disease. Since EBV-infected B cells release the low-affinity IgE receptor (sCD23), we measured sCD23 in the circulation of pediatric liver recipients and found it to be elevated in patients with detectable virus or symptoms of infection. However, sCD23 was also elevated in cases where no EBV was detectable, suggesting that factors other than viral infection could stimulate release of sCD23. To further characterize the immune response to EBV infection, the peripheral levels of IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, and IFN-gamma were determined in pediatric liver recipients. Each of these cytokines was elevated in patients with symptoms or circulating virus compared with stable, age-matched liver recipients. IL-4, in particular, was significantly increased, indicating an important role for this cytokine in EBV infection. Together, these findings suggest that (1) monitoring circulating levels of EBV may be useful in patients at high risk and (2) cytokines that promote B cell growth and differentiation contribute to EBV-associated disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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