Incidence of Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation Is Elevated in COVID-19 Patients
Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology
COVID-19, an infectious respiratory illness, is caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Individuals with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of developing serious illnesses such as long COVID. Recent studies have observed Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) reactivation in patients with severe illness or long COVID, which may contribute to associated symptoms. We determined the frequency of EBV reactivation in COVID-19 positive patients compared to COVID-19 negative patients. 106 blood plasma samples were collected from COVID-19 positive and negative patients and EBV reactivation was determined by detection of EBV DNA and antibodies against EBV lytic genes in individuals with previous EBV infection. 27.1% (13/48) of EBV reactivations, based on qPCR detection of EBV genomes, are from the COVID positive group while only 12.5% (6/48) of reactivations belonged to the negative group. 20/52 (42.30%) of the COVID PCR negative group had detectable antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 nucleoprotein (Np); indicative of past infection. A significantly higher SARS-CoV-2 Np protein level was found in the COVID-19 positive group. In conclusion, COVID-19 patients experienced increased reactivation of EBV in comparison to COVID negative patients.
Bernal, K. D., & Whitehurst, C. B. (2023). Incidence of Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation Is Elevated in COVID-19 Patients. Virus Research, 334, 199157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virusres.2023.199157