Epstein-Barr virus

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Epstein-Barr virus

Template:Taxobox begin placement virus Template:Taxobox group i entry

Species:Human herpesvirus 4 (HHV-4)

|} The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), also called Human herpesvirus 4 (HHV-4), is a virus of the herpes family (which includes Herpes simplex virus and Cytomegalovirus), and one of the most common viruses in humans. Most people become infected at one point with EBV, which is often harmless. It is named after M.A. Epstein and Y.M. Barr, who, along with B.G. Achong, discovered the virus in 1964.


Role in disease

It was the first virus to be identified as an oncovirus and associated with the development of cancer.

It is now known to be associated with a variety of tumors that include lymphomas and leukemias, carcinomas and sarcomas. Associated lymphomas include B cell lymphomas, T cell lymphomas, and NK cell lymphomas. The B cell lymphomas are Burkitt's lymphoma, particularly the form that is endemic in equatorial Africa and appears to be associated with malaria. Other B cell lymphomas arise in immunocompromised patients such as those with AIDS or who have undergone organ transplantation with associated immunosuppression. Hodgkin's disease (also referred to as Hodgkin's lymphoma) is also often associated with EBV. Recently it is appreciated to be a B lineage lymphoma. Peripheral T cell lymphomas are sometimes associated with the virus and NK cell lymphomas, particularly the nasal form are consistently associated. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is virtually always EBV associated, while gastric carcinoma is associated approximately 10% of the time. Smooth muscle tumors are also associated with the virus in immunocompromised patients.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, EBV became the favoured explanation for chronic fatigue syndrome. It was noted that people complaining of characteristic exhaustion had EBV, although it was also noted EBV was present in almost everyone, even those not complaining of exhaustion. The debate lasted for several years. Recently the virus has been implicated in invasive breast cancer.

In Africa, it is associated with Burkitt's lymphoma, a type of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma [1] ( . It is suspected by some that malaria may be a cofactor.

Diseases associated with EBV


Epstein-Barr virions are enveloped and spherical. They have a diameter of 120-220nm. There are small spikes on the surface of the virions, giving it a rough texture. The total genome length for this virus is 170,000 nt.[3] (


  • Epstein MA, Achong BG, Barr YM. Virus particles in cultured lymphoblasts from Burkitt's lymphoma. Lancet 1964;1:702-703. PMID 14107961.

External links

es:Epstein Barr nl:Epstein-Barrvirus zh:人類疱疹病毒第四型


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