Primary Immunodeficiencies Associated with EBV Disease

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2015;390(Pt 1):241-65. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-22822-8_10.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infects nearly all humans and usually is asymptomatic, or in the case of adolescents and young adults, it can result in infectious mononucleosis. EBV-infected B cells are controlled primarily by NK cells, iNKT cells, CD4 T cells, and CD8 T cells. While mutations in proteins important for B cell function can affect EBV infection of these cells, these mutations do not result in severe EBV infection. Some genetic disorders affecting T and NK cell function result in failure to control EBV infection, but do not result in increased susceptibility to other virus infections. These include mutations in SH2D1A, BIRC4, ITK, CD27, MAGT1, CORO1A, and LRBA. Since EBV is the only virus that induces proliferation of B cells, the study of these diseases has helped to identify proteins critical for interactions of T and/or NK cells with B cells. Mutations in three genes associated with hemophagocytic lymphohistocytosis, PRF1, STXBP2, and UNC13D, can also predispose to severe chronic active EBV disease. Severe EBV infection can be associated with immunodeficiencies that also predispose to other viral infections and in some cases other bacterial and fungal infections. These include diseases due to mutations in PIK3CD, PIK3R1, CTPS1, STK4, GATA2, MCM4, FCGR3A, CARD11, ATM, and WAS. In addition, patients with severe combined immunodeficiency, which can be due to mutations in a number of different genes, are at high risk for various infections as well as EBV B cell lymphomas. Identification of proteins important for control of EBV may help to identify new targets for immunosuppressive therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / genetics
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / virology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / genetics
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / immunology
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / virology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology