Immune activation suppresses initiation of lytic Epstein-Barr virus infection.Cell Microbiol. 2007 Aug; 9(8):2055-69.CM
Primary infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is asymptomatic in children with immature immune systems but may manifest as infectious mononucleosis, a vigorous immune activation, in adolescents or adults with mature immune systems. Infectious mononucleosis and chronic immune activation are linked to increased risk for EBV-associated lymphoma. Here we show that EBV initiates progressive lytic infection by expression of BZLF-1 and the late lytic genes gp85 and gp350/220 in cord blood mononuclear cells (CBMC) but not in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from EBV-naive adults after EBV infection ex vivo. Lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines in CBMC, used to model a state of minimal immune activation and immature immunity, than in PBMC were associated with lytic EBV infection. Triggering the innate immunity specifically via Toll-like receptor-9 of B cells substantially suppressed BZLF-1 mRNA expression in acute EBV infection ex vivo and in anti-IgG-stimulated chronically latently EBV-infected Akata Burkitt lymphoma cells. This was mediated in part by IL-12 and IFN-gamma. These results identify immune activation as critical factor for the suppression of initiation of lytic EBV infection. We hypothesize that immune activation contributes to EBV-associated lymphomagenesis by suppressing lytic EBV and in turn promotes latent EBV with transformation potential.