Epidemiology of infection with Epstein-Barr virus types 1 and 2: lessons from the study of a T-cell-immunocompromised hemophilic cohort.
Yao QY., Croom-Carter DS., Tierney RJ., Habeshaw G., Wilde JT., Hill FG., Conlon C., Rickinson AB.
In apparent contrast to earlier work on Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) carriage in the general Caucasian population, in vitro virus isolations from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive male homosexual cohorts have shown frequent examples of multiple EBV infection and an overall prevalence of type 2 EBV strains exceeding 30%. Here we ask to what extent these findings might hold true in another T-cell-immunocompromised cohort, HIV-positive hemophilic patients. Resident EBV strains were rescued within lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from the blood and throat washings of 39 such individuals, using the same in vitro protocols of virus isolation as for the homosexual cohort. A mean of 19 independent cell lines was made per patient, and in each case the resident virus was characterized by PCR-based viral genomic analysis and by immunoblotting to reveal the viral "EBNAprint." By these criteria a significant proportion (14 of 39) of the hemophilic cohort carried more than one EBV strain, suggesting that T-cell impairment does indeed sensitize virus carriers to reinfection with new strains of exogenously transmitted virus. However, the overall incidence of type 2 EBV infection was 10%, which is close to that observed in the earlier work with healthy carriers and substantially lower than that seen in HIV-positive homosexuals. We infer that type 2 EBV is relatively rare in the general Caucasian population but has become endemic in the homosexual community.