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Indexed/Abstracted in: EMBASE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
Impact Factor 0,246
Online ISSN 1827-160X
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a widespread lymphotropic herpes virus which causes infectious mononucleosis, and is associated with an increasing number of human malignancies. This broad disease association is in sharp contrast to the spread of the virus in all human populations and its capacity to persist as a life-long asymptomatic infection. EBV induces long-lasting cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) memory, which is believed to play an important role in controlling EBV-carrying cells in the infected host. The demonstration that the immunoblastic lymphomas occurring in immunosuppressed individuals represent the in vivo outgrowth of EBV-positive LCL-like cells emphasizes the role of immune surveillance in controlling this potentially lymphomagenic virus. Indeed, EBV-specific CTL-based treatments have been successfully applied in various cases of immunoblastic B-cell lymphomas, in severe chronic active EBV-infection, and more recently in HD. The results of these studies suggest that an antigen-specific CTL-based therapy may be of benefit in treating EBV-associated tumors such as NPC and HD that, among the immunogenic EBV-antigens, express exclusively LMP1 and LMP2. NPC and HD are not associated with significant immunosuppression, implying that escape from EBV-specific immunity may play an important role in the development of these tumors. Tumor-escape may be ascribed to the low immunogenicity of the epitopes, since subdominant epitopes could be inefficient in triggering CTL responses adequate to control the growth of EBV-positive malignant cells in vivo. The transformation of subdominant epitopes in “improved epitopes” may represent a strategy to enhance stimulation of natural epitope-specific CTL responses, and could prove useful for CTL-based immunotherapies.