OPEN Virology journal | 8 Jan 2013
Y Pan, Z Nie, Y Zhang, K Zhang, J Li and L Wang
BACKGROUND: Food allergy has been reported increasingly around the world during the past several decades. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a common herpesvirus with high infection rate, is now suspected to be a risk or protective factor in food allergy. The aim of the study was to investigate the possible role of EBV infection in IgE-mediated food allergy. METHODS: 34 patients with an egg allergy and 34 healthy controls participated in this study. Egg allergy was confirmed by open-food challenge. Serum anti-viral capsid antigen (VCA), anti-Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1) IgG and egg specific (yolk and white)-IgE levels were evaluated by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). At the same time, EBV DNA as well as viral miRNAs in these samples was quantified by real-time PCR. RESULTS: The results showed that serum anti EBNA-1 IgG and two viral miRNAs (miR-BART1-5p and miR-BART7) were highly expressed in patients with egg allergy compared with healthy controls (p < 0.05, < 0.001 and < 0.01, respectively). Moreover, the expressions of anti EBNA-1 specific IgG, miR-BART1-5p and miR-BART7 positively correlated with the level of egg-specific IgE (p < 0.05, < 0.01 and < 0.01, respectively). The differences in anti VCA IgG concentration and EBV DNA copy number between the allergy patients and control individuals were not statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS: The high expression of EBV-specific antibody and miRNAs indicated that EBV infection might play a promoting role in IgE-mediated egg food allergy, and viral miRNAs-related immunomodulatory pathway was likely involved in this allergy process.
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