Differential targeting and shifts in the immunodominance of Epstein-Barr virus--specific CD8 and CD4 T cell responses during acute and persistent infection

J Infect Dis. 2005 Nov 1;192(9):1513-24. doi: 10.1086/491741. Epub 2005 Sep 26.


The evolution of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific T cell responses that occurs during the acute and persistent stages of infection remains poorly characterized despite its importance for developing immune interventions for EBV-associated disorders. This study assessed T cell responses to 113 EBV-derived epitopes in 40 subjects with acute or persistent EBV infection. Although no significant differences were seen in the breadth of CD8 and CD4 T cell responses, their magnitude differed significantly over time; acutely infected subjects generated especially strong responses to lytic viral antigens. The cross-sectional shift in immunodominance was also confirmed in subjects followed longitudinally from acute to persistent infection. In addition, human leukocyte antigen-matched siblings with discordant histories of symptomatic EBV infection showed no significant differences in their response patterns, suggesting that symptomatic EBV infection does not lead to unique persistent-stage responses. These data provide an assessment of immunodominance patterns and guidance for developing immunotherapeutic interventions for EBV-associated disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / physiology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Humans
  • Immunodominant Epitopes / immunology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data


  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Immunodominant Epitopes