In-vitro infection of chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells by Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

Eiji Tatsumi, Shinji Harada, Thomas Bechtold, Helen Lipscomb, Jack Davis, Charles Kuszynski, David J. Volsky, Tin Han, James Armitage, David T. Purtilo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We sought to determine the potential of infecting lymphoid cells from patients with chronic leukemia (CLL) with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) by testing for EBV receptors (EBVR) by flow cytometry, assessing for infectability of these cells by culturing with B95-8-derived virus, and staining for EB nuclear-associated antigens (EBNA) at various times post-infection. EBVR were present on 54-91% of lymphoid cells in seven cases of CLL and on 46% of prolymphocytic leukemia cells. Dynamic changes regarding EBNA positivity, morphology, and viability occured post-infection with the virus. On day 2 only a few EBNA-positive lymphoblasts were observed. On days 11-21 positivity increased from 2 to 34% of cells. Simultaneously, the viable cell number declined to approximately 1/10th of original number. A significant proportion of the EBNApositive cells corresponded to the original CLL cells. In 3 of 7 cases of CLL a Pan T-cell phenotype was demonstrated by Leu-1 monoclonal antibody testing. The infected cells did not react with two monoclonal antibodies, EBV-CS 1 and 4, which react with B-cell lymphoblastoid cell lines (B-LCL). Moreover, the B-LCL derived at 1-2 months post-infection of CLL cells did not express the Leu-1 antigen, but expressed EBV-CS 1 or 4 defined antigens. In the prolymphocytic leukemia, 64% of the cells showed EBNA positivity on day 7 and giant cells with huge round or multiple nuclei appeared which were EBNA-postive. CLL and prolymphocytic leukemia cells can be infected as demonstrated by EBNA-positivity. This infection does not lead to immediate transformation, but evokes lymphoblast and multinucleated giant cell production prior to the death of cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-177
Number of pages11
JournalLeukemia Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1986


  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • infectibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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