Twenty five homosexual men from London, 14 of whom had persistent lymphadenopathy and 11 of whom did not, were tested for immunity to Epstein-Barr (EB) virus. All yielded positive results to serological tests for the viral capsid antibody, and 11 had antibodies to the early antigen. Thirteen out of 17 were excreting virus into the saliva; culture of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from two of these patients showed no detectable regression induced by T cells that was specific to EB virus. No differences were found between the patients with and without lymphadenopathy. Peripheral blood B cells from six patients with hypergammaglobulinaemia were double stained for cytoplasmic immunoglobulin and EB viral nuclear antigen, and in all cases the activated B cells producing immunoglobulin did not contain EB nuclear antigen. Similarly, lymph node biopsy specimens from five patients showed no cells with EB nuclear antigen. These results indicate that although homosexual men have a high incidence of reactivated infection with EB virus, this viral infection is not the cause of the polyclonal activation of B cells seen in peripheral blood and is not implicated in the aetiology of the lymphadenopathy found in these men.
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