Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) Molecular Testing


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Subject: Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) Molecular Testing

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  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) quantitative PCR detects the presence of EBV DNA in clinical specimens, most commonly plasma or serum. Normal adults usually do not have detectable EBV DNA in their plasma/serum, although normal adults previously infected with EBV will have low levels of EBV DNA in their lymphocytes.


  • Monitoring the level of viral reactivation and/or disease activity, particularly in the posttransplant and chemotherapy patients.

  • In diagnosis, prognosis, prediction, and prevention of diseases as mononucleosis, lymphoma, sarcoma, and carcinoma.

  • EBV viral load in whole blood reflects clinical status in patients with infectious mononucleosis, allogeneic transplant, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

  • The EBV DNA level in healthy carriers is low and restricted to the intracellular compartment of the blood. The high level is characteristic of EBV-related disease.

  • Patients with active infection or EBV-related cancer tend to have high levels of EBV DNA in the plasma or serum.


  • Currently, there is no international standard available for calibration of this assay. Therefore, caution should be taken when interpreting results obtained by different laboratories or assay methodologies. PCR inhibitors in the patient specimen may lead to underestimation of viral quantitation or in rare cases, false-negative results. Proper storage and timely separation serum or plasma are necessary for obtaining reliable results. EBV DNA released from the intracellular compartment may cause false-positive EBV results in plasma or serum. False-negative results can be obtained due to nuclease activities.

  • http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/InVitroDiagnostics/ucm330711.htm