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Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is usually maintained in an asymptomatic and latent form by the host immune system, and primarily by EBV-specific cytotoxic T cells (CTLs). However, EBV has been linked to several refractory diseases such as EBV-associated hemophagocytic syndrome(EBV-AHS) and chronic active EBV infection (CAEBV). In these ectopic diseases, EBV infects T/NK cells, causing severe immunodeficiency with a very high EBV load. In recent years, the laboratory procedure to assess these types of EBV infections has been improved. In particular, real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been used to quantify the EBV load, and the MHC: peptide tetramer assay has been used to quantitate EBV-specific CTLs; these tests have been employed for the management of the illnesses associated with EBV infection. Here, we have reviewed the recent progress in the clinical application of these assays. The pathogenesis of EBV-infected T/NK cells, and the host immune response to infection, including the roles carried out by innate immunity and inflammatory cytokines, are likely to be revealed in the future.
chronic active Epstein-Barr virus infection
Epstein-Barr virus-associated hemophagocytic syndrome
Acta Medica Okayama
Okayama University Medical School
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