Epstein-Barr virus is associated with gastric carcinoma: the question is what is the significance?

World J Gastroenterol. 2008 Jul 21;14(27):4347-51. doi: 10.3748/wjg.14.4347.


Aim: To examine the possible role of the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) in the development of gastric adenocarcinoma (GC). It is unclear whether EBV is involved in GC development or is a consequence of gastric inflammation secondary to immunosuppressive treatments.

Methods: A systematic review was carried out of all published observational studies on the temporal association between EBV and GC, with a view to determine a causal relationship.

Results: The present study showed that the worldwide crude prevalence of EBV in gastric adenocarcinoma was 8.29%. The prevalence varied from 7.08% for intestinal type and 9.82% for diffuse type of GC. It was observed that Western and Central Asian countries had a significantly higher frequency of EBV positive cases compared to South-Eastern countries. America had the highest EBV-GC prevalence whereas Europe had the lowest.

Conclusion: The present review has demonstrated a high prevalence of EBV in gastric adenocarcinoma. However, studies designed to assess a temporal relationship and histological association using sensitive techniques should be carried out to establish the role of EBV in GC carcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / virology*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / complications
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / pathology
  • Global Health
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Inflammation
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Stomach Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / virology*
  • Time Factors


  • Immunosuppressive Agents