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Protocol Details

Genetic Studies of Chronic Active Epstein-Barr Virus Infection

This study is currently recruiting participants.

Summary | Eligibility | Citations | Contacts




Sponsoring Institute

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Recruitment Detail

Type: Participants currently recruited/enrolled
Gender: Male & Female
Min Age: 1 Years
Max Age: 120 Years

Referral Letter Required


Population Exclusion(s)



Epstein-Barr Virus;
Lymphoproliferative Disease;
Natural History

Recruitment Keyword(s)

Chronic Active Epstein-Barr Virus;


Chronic Active Epstein-Barr Virus

Investigational Drug(s)


Investigational Device(s)




Supporting Site

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a member of the human herpes virus family that infects more than 95 percent of the U.S. population. Most infections occur in childhood and cause no symptoms; in adolescents and adults, EBV often causes infectious mononucleosis. It has also been associated with certain forms of cancer. Chronic Epstein-Barr virus (CAEBV) is a rare disease, primarily of children and young adults, that leads to life-threatening infections.

This study seeks to identify genetic mutations responsible for CAEBV. A secondary goal is to learn more about the natural history of CAEBV.

The study will examine blood and tissue samples from up to 50 patients (age 3 and above) with CAEBV and up to 150 of their relatives (age 1 and above). Autopsy samples may be included in the study. Up to 300 anonymous blood samples from the NIH Clinical Center Blood Transfusion Medicine will also be examined for comparison.

No more than 450 milligrams (30 tablespoons) of blood per 8 weeks will be drawn from adult patients, and no more than 7 milliliters per kilogram of blood per 8 weeks will be drawn from patients under age 18. Local health care providers will refer patients to the study and will obtain the samples. Some patients may also be seen at the NIH Clinical Center. Those patients will have a full medical history and physical examination, along with chest X-ray, blood counts, blood chemistry, EBV serologies, and viral load. Other tests, such as CT scan or MRI, may be performed if medically indicated. Patients will be asked to undergo leukapheresis.

In vitro tests on the blood or tissue samples will include analysis for proteins or genes that are involved in the immune response; cloning of portions of patient DNA; transformation of B cells with EBV; measurement of the ability of patient blood cells to kill EBV-infected cells; determination of lymphocyte subsets; and determination of antibodies to EBV or other herpes viruses.

If a genetic cause for CAEBV is found, the investigators will be available to discuss the results with patients in person or by telephone. Genetic indications of risk for other diseases will also be discussed with patients.

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Study size: up to 150 patients

Sex distribution: male and female

Age range: 1 year old and above

Patients with known or suspected CAEBV and their relatives will be recruited by referrals from health care providers. The rarity of this disease will markedly limit the number of patients available to study; therefore, we will enroll patients who are 1 year of age and older. However, children under the age of 3 years old will be enrolled as samples- only participants and not be evaluated at the Clinical Center.

Patient recruitment is irrespective of racial and ethnic group or gender. NIAID investigators will be available to answer questions and discuss general aspects of CAEBV and identified genes or modifier genes with participants or their providers.

Eligibility criteria: To be considered having CAEBV, a patient must have:

(a) a severe progressive illness that began as a primary EBV infection, or associated with postive EBV-specific antibody titers (IgG-VCA, ; EA or EBNA) not otherwise explained AND

(b) evidence of major organ involvement such as lymphadenitis, hemophagocytosis, meningoencephalitis, persistent hepatitis, splenomegaly, interstitial pneumonitis, bone marrow hypoplasia, uveitis AND

(c) detection of elevated levels of EBV DNA, RNA or proteins in affected tissues OR elevated levels of EBV DNA in the peripheral blood

Exclusion Criteria:

(a) Any other condition that, in the opinion of the investigator, would make the patient unsuitable for enrollment or could interfere with the patient participating in the study.


Study size: up to 150 relatives of CAEBV patients

Age range: 3 years and above

To determine the genetic basis for this syndrome, the evaluation of blood, saliva and/or previously obtained tissue specimens from healthy relatives of CAEBV patients will serve as controls. No tissue biopsies will be performed on healthy relatives. We will

perform some of the studies listed on samples from normal relatives.


Study size: up to 300 persons

Age range: 18 years and above

Panels of anonymous blood samples will be obtained through NIH Clinical Center Blood Transfusion Medicine to determine if identified genetic changes are mutations or polymorphisms.

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Okamura T, Hatsukawa Y, Arai H, Inoue M, Kawa K. Blood stem-cell transplantation for chronic active Epstein-Barr virus with lymphoproliferation. Lancet. 2000 Jul 15;356(9225):223-4.

Cohen JI, Jaffe ES, Dale JK, Pittaluga S, Heslop HE, Rooney CM, Gottschalk S, Bollard CM, Rao VK, Marques A, Burbelo PD, Turk SP, Fulton R, Wayne AS, Little RF, Cairo MS, El-Mallawany NK, Fowler D, Sportes C, Bishop MR, Wilson W, Straus SE. Characterization and treatment of chronic active Epstein-Barr virus disease: a 28-year experience in the United States. Blood. 2011 Jun 2;117(22):5835-49. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-11-316745. Epub 2011 Mar 31.

Cohen JI. Optimal treatment for chronic active Epstein-Barr virus disease. Pediatr Transplant. 2009 Jun;13(4):393-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3046.2008.01095.x.

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Principal Investigator

Referral Contact

For more information:

Jeffrey I. Cohen, M.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Jeffrey I. Cohen, M.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
NIHBC 50 BG RM 6134
(301) 496-5265

Office of Patient Recruitment
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
Building 61, 10 Cloister Court
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
Toll Free: 1-800-411-1222
Local Phone: 301-451-4383
TTY: TTY Users Dial 7-1-1

Clinical Trials Number:


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