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Highly sensitive detection of Epstein-Barr virus-infected cells by EBER flow FISH.

When Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is suspected, identification of infected cells is important to understand the pathogenesis, determinine the treatment strategy, and predict the prognosis. We used the PrimeFlow™ RNA Assay Kit with a probe to detect EBV-encoded small RNAs (EBERs) and multiple surface markers, to identify EBV-infected cells by flow cytometry. We analyzed a total of 24 patients [11 with chronic active EBV disease (CAEBV), 3 with hydroa vacciniforme lymphoproliferative disorder, 2 with X-linked lymphoproliferative disease type 1 (XLP1), 2 with EBV-associated hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, and 6 with posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD)]. We compared infected cells using conventional quantitative PCR methods and confirmed that infected cell types were identical in most patients. Patients with CAEBV had widespread infection in T and NK cells, but a small amount of B cells were also infected, and infection in patients with XLP1 and PTLD was not limited to B cells. EBV-associated diseases are believed to be complex pathologies caused by EBV infecting a variety of cells other than B cells. We also demonstrated that infected cells were positive for HLA-DR in patients with CAEBV. EBER flow FISH can identify EBV-infected cells with high sensitivity and is useful for elucidating the pathogenesis.

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