Antibodies to EBV-Encoded Proteins in Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • P. J. W. Venables


The Epstein-Barr virus has been considered a possible pathogen for RA because it is ubiquitous, has profound effects on the immune system [1] and is able to persist in two cell types, lymphoid cells [2] and the salivary gland epithelium [3]. Both of these could envisaged as possible sources for the pathogenic features of RA, either by causing polyclonal activation of B cells, a prominent feature of the disease, or by leading to salivary gland inflammation (as secondary Sjögren’s syndrome). Evidence from cellular studies suggesting possible involvement in RA includes the ability of the virus to induce rheumatoid factor production in vitro and impaired T cell regulation of EBV-infected B cells (see Lotz and Roudier, this volume), and some in vivo studies which suggest increased virus load. A second body of evidence comes from serological studies which have shown increased titres of antibodies to a variety of EBV-encoded antigens. This has been interpreted as suggesting more active EBV infection in RA. However, the results of much of this work must be interpreted with caution, as many of the earlier assays for EBV antibodies were crude, semiquantitative, subject to a variety of artefacts and not always performed with age- and sex-matched controls.


Rheumatoid Arthritis Latent Membrane Protein Infectious Mononucleosis Geometric Mean Titre Early Antigen 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. J. W. Venables
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Clinical ImmunologyKennedy InstituteLondonUK

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