Involvement of the Epstein-Barr virus in the nasopharyngeal carcinoma pathogenesis

Med Oncol. 2005;22(2):113-21. doi: 10.1385/MO:22:2:113.


The aim of this study was to discuss the relevance of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), analyzing the variations of several molecules potentially involved in the pathogenesis of this cancer. EBV was detected in all the NPC samples by several techniques including PCR, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemical methodologies. CD21 membrane receptor was absent after EBV infection, being a differential morphological feature of the tumoral cells. Latent membrane protein-1 (LMP1), an oncogenic viral product, was detected in a high percentage of samples, supporting a role for EBV in the pathogenesis of NPC. Bcl-2, an anti-apoptotic protein up-regulated by LMP1, was also overexpressed, coinciding with the majority of samples positive for LMP1. Finally, p53 presented abnormalities only in a low percentage of samples. These results reinforce the role of the EBV in the NPC discussing several potential mechanisms of pathogenesis in this neoplasia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / metabolism
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / pathology
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / virology*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / virology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Viral Proteins / analysis
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Viral Proteins