The detection of Epstein-Barr virus in the lesions of salivary glands

Pathol Res Pract. 1999;195(6):407-12. doi: 10.1016/S0344-0338(99)80014-4.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is known in association with lymphoid and epithelial lesion. Because the salivary gland is an organ close to the oropharynx, it has a higher incidence of EBV infection and is a possible route of EBV infection. Formalin-fixed, paraffin embedded tissue sections of 87 cases of salivary gland diseases were used for the study of EBV with PCR, in situ PCR for EBNA-1 (EBV nuclear antigen-1), and immunohistochemistry for LMP-1 (latent membrane protein-1). EBV was detected in 12 cases (13.8%): 7 of nonspecific chronic sialadenitis (21.2%), 4 of Warthin's tumors (30.8%), and one lymphoepithelial carcinoma. EBNA-1 was negative in all the other lesions. EBV DNA was detected in the nucleus of epithelial cells and the surrounding lymphocytes. LMP-1 positivity was found in the cytoplasm of epithelial cells. The results of the present study showed that EBV is implicated in some of the inflammatory and neoplastic lesions of the salivary gland in which the lymphocytes are abundant. However, the pathogenesis and mechanism of immortalization and tumorigenesis of the epithelial cells in the salivary glands remain to be determined.

MeSH terms

  • Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigens / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Salivary Gland Diseases / virology*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / virology*
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / isolation & purification


  • EBV-associated membrane antigen, Epstein-Barr virus
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigens
  • Viral Matrix Proteins