A novel form of Epstein-Barr virus latency in normal B cells in vivo

Cell. 1995 Feb 24;80(4):593-601. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(95)90513-8.


We have developed a PCR assay that can detect a single Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) genome in the presence of 10(6) uninfected cells. Using this assay, we demonstrate that EBV persists, in the peripheral blood of all seropositive individuals tested, in CD19+, CD23-, and CD80 (B7)- B cells. We further show that the virus in these cells is latent, but readily reactivated to produce infectious immortalizing virus; therefore, these cells represent a true site of latent persistence. EBV was not significantly detected in monocytes or T cells. The frequency of infected cells in nine healthy donors varied from 23 to 625 per 10(7) B cells, but was relatively stable for each individual over the course of 2 years. We conclude that the EBV-infected cells in vivo are B cells with a nonactivated phenotype. This represents a novel form of latency in normal B cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, CD19
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets
  • B-Lymphocytes / virology*
  • B7-1 Antigen
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Monocytes / virology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Receptors, IgE
  • T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Virus Activation
  • Virus Latency*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, CD19
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte
  • B7-1 Antigen
  • DNA, Viral
  • Receptors, IgE