Epstein-Barr virus: what can it cause?

O Epstein-Barr it’s a virus of the family Herpesviridae known primarily to trigger the infectious mononucleosis, known as kissing disease. The virus, however, is not only linked to this disease, being associated with other health problems, including certain types of cancerespecially the lymphatic system and the head and neck.

The Epstein-Barr virus is distinguished by its genome formed by a molecule of DNA, which is located in a nucleocapsid, itself surrounded by a viral envelope. The virus has the ability to remain latent in the body and is not responsible for epidemics.

Read also : Rotavirus — virus well known to affect children

Topics in this article

Summary on the Epstein-Barr virus

  • Epstein-Barr is a family virus Herpesviridae which measures between 120 and 180 nanometers and has double-stranded DNA.

  • It is latent in the organism, remaining in the body even after the symptoms of the disease are over.

  • It’s known to cause infectious mononucleosis, but it’s also been linked to other health issues.

  • There are two types of Epstein-Barr virus, which are classified as 1 and 2 or A and B.

What is the Epstein-Barr virus?

Epstein-Barr (EBV), discovered in 1964, it’s a family virus Herpesviridae🇧🇷 This virus is officially called herpes virus 4 (HHV-4) and is mainly known to cause infectious mononucleosis, although it is linked to other health problems, such as the rare Alice syndrome in the country. wonders, encephalitis and sGuillain Barre syndrome🇧🇷

It is important to emphasize that EBV also presents a strong relationship with the development of different types of cancerespecially those of the lymphatic system and head and neck. Also, recently, the virus has been associated with the development of multiple sclerosis.

The virus does not cause epidemics and it is estimated to infect over 90% of the world’s population. Studies suggest that this virus is present latently in about 90-95% of adults and about 40% of children.

Don’t stop now… There’s more after the ad 😉

Characteristics of the Epstein-Barr virus

The Epstein-Barr virus measures between 120 and 180 nanometers and is distinguished by its hexagonal nucleocapsid surrounded by an envelope with a complex structure of protein🇧🇷 O the genetic material of this virus is a double-stranded DNA molecule, which has about 184,000 base pairs.

The virus, along with other viruses of the family Herpesviridae, stands out to stay in the body even after the disappearance of the clinical picture caused by it. The virus therefore remains latent in our body.

Structure of the Epstein-Barr virus
The Epstein-Barr virus has a hexagonal nucleocapsid, which is surrounded by an envelope.

There are two types of Epstein-Barr viruswhich are classified as 1 and 2 or A and B. These viruses differ in some alleles🇧🇷

EBV-1 stands out as being the most common and having a worldwide distribution. When analyzing how to infect B cells in vitro, this virus manages to affect them faster. EBV-2, in turn, occurs mainly in equatorial Africa and in people infected with HIV. This type of EBV affects B cells more slowly and less efficiently than EBV type 1.

Read also🇧🇷 Adenovirus – a group of viruses capable of affecting different animals

infectious mononucleosis

Infectious mononucleosis is a contagious disease caused by EBV🇧🇷 It is a low-lethality febrile illness that can affect people of all ages, although it mainly affects young people and adults between the ages of 15 and 25. It is characterized by the occurrence of the triad: fever, pharyngitis and adenopathy (increased lymph nodes).

THE Infectious mononucleosis is transmitted through the oral-oral route., by intimate contact with the patient’s saliva. For this reason, mononucleosis is also known as the kissing disease. In the case of children, transmission is associated with the fact that they often put objects in their mouths, which may be contaminated with saliva. Rarely, transmission of mononucleosis occurs through sexual contact or blood transfusion.

Epstein-Barr and multiple sclerosis

THE multiple sclerosis It is a chronic diseaseae autoimmuneeh which affects the central nervous system🇧🇷 In this disease, the defense cells attack a layer of fat that covers the axons of the neurons, the so-called myelin sheath. Among the symptoms of the disease, we can highlight fatigue, muscle weakness, coordination and balance problems, urinary and intestinal problems.

THE the cause of multiple sclerosis is not known at this time, however, the disease is thought to be triggered by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some studies suggest that infectious agents may be associated with the development of multiple sclerosis, BVE being one of them.

In an article published in the journal Science, in January 2022, and entitled “Longitudinal analysis reveals high prevalence of Epstein-Barr virus associated with multiple sclerosis”, researchers specify that the multiple sclerosis risk ‘increased 32-fold after EBV infection’, but did not increase after infection with other similarly transmitted viruses, including cytomegalovirus”. Also according to the authors, the results of the analyzes cannot be explained by any known risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS) and suggest that EBV is the main cause of MS.

It is important to point out, however, that as Robinson and Steinman pointed out in a commentary article accompanying the study, “almost everyone is infected with EBV, but only a small fraction develop MS🇧🇷 Thus, other factors, such as genetic susceptibility, are important in the pathogenesis of MS. This means that someone who has been infected with EBV will not necessarily develop multiple sclerosis, and it is essential to understand why not everyone develops the problem.

By Vanessa Sardinha dos Santos
Biology teacher

Add Comment