Epstein-Barr Virus load and immune activation in Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1-infected patients

Maria Raffaella Petrara, Anna Maria Cattelan, Marisa Zanchetta, Lolita Sasset, Riccardo Freguja, Ketty Gianesin, Maria Grazia Cecchetto, Francesco Carmona, Anita De Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Patients infected with HIV-1 are at high risk of developing Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)-related diseases. Chronic immune activation is a hallmark of HIV-1 pathogenesis and may play a role in B-cell stimulation and expansion of EBV-infected cells. Objectives: The aim of the study was to define the relationship between parameters of immune activation and EBV load in HIV-1-infected subjects. Study design: A total of 156 HIV-1-infected patients were studied. EBV types 1 and 2 were quantified on peripheral blood mononuclear cells by multiplex real-time PCR. Plasma levels of cytokines and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) were determined by immunoenzymatic assays. B-cell activation was analyzed by flow cytometry. Results: EBV-DNA was detected in 114 patients, and in all but 3 was EBV type 1. The median [interquartile] EBV-DNA load was 43[1-151] copies/10 5 PBMC. EBV-DNA load was higher in patients with detectable HIV-1 plasma viremia, despite good immunological status (CD4>500 cells/μl), than in patients with undetectable HIV-1 plasma viremia regardless of immunological status (46[5-136] copies/10 5 cells vs 17[1-56] copies/10 5 cells, p=0.008). Patients with high EBV-DNA load (>median value) had higher levels of LPS and proinflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-10 and TNF-α) than patients with low EBV load. Furthermore, percentages of activated B-cells correlated with EBV-DNA load (r s=0.754; p

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-200
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • B-cell activation
  • EBV
  • EBV-related lymphomas
  • HIV-1
  • Immune activation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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