Is there diagnostic value in detection of immunoglobulin g antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus early antigen?

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Biores Open Access, 1, 291-6. 2012.

The Epstein-Barr virus early antigen (EBV EA) complex consists of multiple proteins with potential significance for diagnosis of EBV-related diseases. In many individuals, detection of antibody to the early antigen (EA) is a sign of active infection, but 20% of healthy people may have this antibody for years. We studied the role of EA immunoglobulin G (IgG) in individuals with atypical antibody responses in the diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis (IM) and in EBV-infected transplant patients. EA IgG was present in 72% of confirmed IM patients. A trend was observed between high viral loads and the presence of EA IgG and between low viral loads and the absence of EA IgG in EBV-associated disease negative liver transplant recipients. Three assays that measure serum EA IgG were compared; enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), chemiluminescent immunoassay (CLIA), and immunoblot assay. The automated CLIA was found to be more accurate than the ELISA when using the immunoblot assay as a "gold standard" assay in the detection of EA IgG. There may be a potential role for EA IgG testing, together with EBV viral load, in the prediction of transplant recipients at risk of EBV-associated disease; however, EA IgG does not play a significant role in the differential diagnosis of EBV infection in immunocompetent individuals.