Epstein-Barr virus (types 1 and 2) in the tear film in Sjogren's syndrome and HIV infection

J Med Virol. 2002 Nov;68(3):378-83. doi: 10.1002/jmv.10214.


Evidence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) shedding in the saliva and tear film has been sought to explain the pathogenesis of the oral and ocular features of Sjogren's syndrome. Patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are purported to have a higher incidence of keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Twenty patients with definite Sjogren's syndrome (primary and secondary), 19 with HIV infection, and 15 normal controls were recruited and studied. Human herpes viruses (EBV 1 and 2, CMV, HZV, and HSV-1) in tear film were detected by polymerase chain reaction of DNA extracted from Schirmer strips. HSV-1, VZV, and CMV were not detected in any tear samples. EBV-1 DNA was found in the tear film of 4 patients with Sjogren's syndrome, which was not significantly different from the control group (P = 0.18). Twelve patients with HIV infection had evidence of EBV-1 in their tears, which was significantly different from controls (P = 0.0002) and patients with Sjogren's syndrome (P = 0.014). EBV-2 was found in 3 patients with HIV and in 1 patient with secondary Sjogren's syndrome, and was always found as a co-infection with EBV-1 (P = 0.01). This represents the first report examining EBV types 1 and 2 in the tear film and also EBV in the tear film of patients with HIV. Shedding of EBV in the tear film was not related to the presence of keratoconjunctivitis sicca in Sjogren's syndrome. EBV-2 co-infection with EBV-1 has not been previously reported in the tear film. EBV infection is abnormally regulated in Sjogren's syndrome and HIV, and it is likely that the presence of EBV in the tear film is related to the patients' altered immune status.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / complications*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / classification
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca / virology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / complications*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / virology
  • Tears / virology*


  • DNA, Viral