Epstein-Barr virus in healthy individuals from Portugal.

Hugo Sousa, João Silva, Luís Azevedo, Ana L Pinto-Correia, Raquel Catarino, Daniela Pinto, Carlos Lopes, Rui Medeiros


The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) persists for long periods in latent state inside B-lymphocytes after primary infections, and reactivation usually occurs associated to immunosuppression conditions of the host. Recently, the detection of EBV DNA in circulation has been suggested as a predictor marker for the development of EBV related malignancies.The aim of our study was to characterize the frequency of circulating EBV in healthy individuals (n=508) from the North region of Portugal, using peripheral blood samples. Detection was performed by Nested-PCR which amplifies a fragment from the BamHIW region of the EBV genome.Our results revealed an overall frequency of 37.2% positive cases for EBV in circulation, with distinct distribution according to genre (39.7% in male individuals and 33.2% in females). We also found that EBV is more frequent in individuals with more than 56 years old compared to individuals with less than 56 years old (p=0.032; RR=1.41), mainly in the male group (p=0.024; OR=1.51).This is the first study which characterizes the frequency of EBV in circulation in healthy donors from the Northern Region of Portugal, revealing increased frequency of EBV in circulation in healthy individuals with differences depending on gender or age. Further studies are required to analyze the role of circulating EBV in the definition of susceptibilities to EBV associated diseases.

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