The aims of this study were to elucidate the kinetics of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA load in serially collected peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with primary EBV infection, and to determine the correlated host factors. Blood samples were collected from 24 patients with primary EBV infection. EBV DNA copy numbers were measured using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Based on the kinetics of EBV DNA load, the 24 patients were divided into two groups: rapid regression and slow regression. Eighteen of the 24 patients (75%) were included in the slow regression and 6 (25%) in the rapid regression group. No statistically significant differences were observed between the two groups in clinical features and laboratory findings. However, acute phase (3 to 10 days after the onset of the illness) serum samples from six children in the slow regression and four in the rapid regression group revealed significantly higher serum interleukin (IL)-1β (P= 0.018), IL-12 (P= 0.009), tumor necrosis factor-α (P= 0.019), interferon-inducible protein 10, and monokine induced by interferon γ concentrations in the rapid regression than the slow regression group. On the other hand, sera from six children in the slow regression and four in the rapid regression group in the convalescent phase (14 to 21 days after the onset of the illness) showed no statistically significant differences between the two groups in these biomarker concentrations. Based on this, it was concluded that the kinetics of EBV DNA load can be divided to two different patterns after primary EBV infection, and immune response might be associated with viral clearance.
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