The Biology and Clinical Utility of EBV Monitoring in Blood

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2015:391:475-99. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-22834-1_17.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA in blood can be quantified in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, in circulating cell-free (CCF) DNA specimens, or in whole blood. CCF viral DNA may be actively released or extruded from viable cells, packaged in virions or passively shed from cells during apoptosis or necrosis. In infectious mononucleosis, viral DNA is detected in each of these kinds of specimens, although it is only transiently detected in CCF specimens. In nasopharyngeal carcinoma, CCF EBV DNA is an established tumor marker. In EBV-associated Hodgkin lymphoma and in EBV-associated extranodal NK-/T-cell lymphoma, there is growing evidence for the utility of CCF DNA as a tumor marker.

Keywords: Circulating cell‐free DNA; EBV monitoring; Nasopharyngeal cancer; Plasma EBV DNA; Tumor marker.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Viral / blood*
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / blood*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / virology*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / virology
  • Virus Replication


  • DNA, Viral