High Epstein-Barr virus serum load and elevated titers of anti-ZEBRA antibodies in patients with EBV-harboring tumor cells of Hodgkin's disease

J Med Virol. 1999 Apr;57(4):383-9. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9071(199904)57:4<383::aid-jmv10>3.0.co;2-3.


Hodgkin's disease is commonly associated with EBV latent infection. The incidence of EBV reactivation (active infection or EBV infection with replicative cycle) was evaluated in a series of 30 patients with untreated Hodgkin's disease (except for one case with chronic lymphocytic leukemia) by quantitation of EBV DNA and titration of anti-ZEBRA antibodies in serum samples. DNA was detected in serum (>2.5 x 10(2) genomes/ml) in 15 of 30 patients and was more frequent in Hodgkin's disease with EBV-positive Reed-Sternberg cells (10/12) than in EBV-negative cases (5/18), (P< 0.01). Of interest was the demonstration that viremia correlated well with increased titers of anti-ZEBRA IgG and/or standard serological profiles of EBV reactivation (12/15), (P < 0.05). However the lack of EBV replicative cycle in Reed-Sternberg cells (negative for ZEBRA antigen and early antigen BHLF1) suggests that the viral replication occurs in a nonneoplastic cell compartment rather than in tumor cells. The measurement of EBV DNA loads and the titration of anti-ZEBRA antibodies shed new lights on the link between activation of EBV replication and Hodgkin's disease: these serological markers together with the determination of the EBV status of the tumor suggest that replication of the viral genome occurs with a decreased efficiency of the immune system, thus allowing progression of the tumor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / virology
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / immunology*
  • Female
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / physiology
  • Hodgkin Disease / blood
  • Hodgkin Disease / immunology
  • Hodgkin Disease / virology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Trans-Activators / immunology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Viral Proteins*
  • Virus Replication


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • BZLF1 protein, Herpesvirus 4, Human
  • DNA, Viral
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Trans-Activators
  • Viral Proteins