Epstein-Barr virus specific salivary antibodies as related to stress caused by examinations Academic Article uri icon


  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is prevalent in 90% of the population. After primary infection it remains in a latent state and the majority of the virus carriers are asymptomatic during their life. Among the immunocompromized patients such as organ and bone marrow transplant recipients, individuals lacking T cell immunity, and patients treated with corticosteroid, cancer, and AIDS patients EBV primary infection and reactivation can cause life threatening diseases. Immunosupression may occur also during stressful events, which induce corticosteroid release and thus activate EBV. The effect of examination stress on EBV reactivation among female students was studied by detecting the values of EBV specific IgG and IgA salivary antibodies. Sequential saliva samples were obtained from first year female students before, during, and after two important examinations. EBV specific IgG and IgA salivary antibodies were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Hepatitis A virus (HAV) salivary antibodies served as a non-latent virus control. A statistically significant increase in the values of EBV specific IgG and IgA antibodies was detected in samples collected during the examinations, as compared to the samples collected two months before and one month after the exams (P < 0.05). HAV antibody levels did not change significantly between the four time points. The menstrual cycle had no significant effect on the results. No significant symptoms were reported during the whole study. These results indicate that among female students who endure stress during academic examinations, a significant increase in EBV specific IgG and IgA salivary antibody values could be detected. EBV reactivation should be confirmed by measuring salivary EBV DNA or infectious virus.

publication date

  • June 1, 2001