Human immunity against EBV-lessons from the clinic

Stuart G. Tangye, Umaimainthan Palendira, Emily S.J. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


The mammalian immune system has evolved over many millennia to be best equipped to protect the host from pathogen infection. In many cases, host and pathogen have coevolved, each acquiring sophisticated ways of inducing or protecting from disease. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a human herpes virus that infects > 90% of individuals. Despite its ubiquity, infection by EBV is often subclinical; this invariably reflects the necessity of the virus to preserve its host, balanced with sophisticated host immune mechanisms that maintain viral latency. However, EBV infection can result in various, and often fatal, clinical sequelae, including fulminant infectious mononucleosis, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, lymphoproliferative disease, organomegaly, and/or malignancy. Such clinical outcomes are typically observed in immunosuppressed individuals, with the most extreme cases being Mendelian primary immunodeficiencies (PIDs). Although these conditions are rare, they have provided critical insight into the cellular, biochemical, and molecular requirements for robust and long-lasting immunity against EBV infection. Here, we review the virology of EBV, mechanisms underlying disease pathogenesis in PIDs, and developments in immune cell-mediated therapy to treat disorders associated with or induced by EBV infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-283
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Cite this