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      Epstein-Barr Virus Infection and Sporadic Breast Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis

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          A large number of epidemiological studies have evaluated the association between Epstein-Barr virus infection and breast carcinoma risk but results have been inconsistent.


          Research using the polymerase chain reaction technique for detecting the Epstein-Barr virus was selected; 24 studies and 1535 cases were reviewed. Information on the study populations, sample types, publication calendar period and histological types of breast carcinoma were collected. An unconditional logistic regression model was used to analyze potential parameters related to the Epstein-Barr virus prevalence. A Kappa test was used to evaluate the consistency in detecting different Epstein-Barr virus DNA regions. Nine studies that included control groups and 1045 breast cancer cases were adopted in this meta-analysis.


          We found that 29.32% of the patients with breast carcinoma were infected with the Epstein-Barr virus. The prevalence of Epstein-Barr was highest in Asia (35.25%) and lowest in the USA (18.27%). Statistical analysis revealed a trend that showed lobular breast carcinoma might have the strongest association with Epstein-Barr virus infection. This meta-analysis showed a significant increase in breast malignancy risk in patients testing positive for the Epstein-Barr virus (OR = 6.29, 95% CI = 2.13–18.59). This result suggests that an Epstein-Barr virus infection is statistically associated with increased breast carcinoma risk.

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          Most cited references47

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          Epstein-barr virus-associated malignancies: epidemiologic patterns and etiologic implications.

          Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a ubiquitous B-lymphotrophic herpesvirus, has been found in the tumor cells of a heterogeneous group of malignancies (Burkitt's lymphoma, lymphomas associated with immunosuppression, other non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, Hodgkin's disease, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, gastric adenocarcinoma, lymphoepithelioma-like carcinomas, and immunodeficiency-related leiomyosarcoma). As the epidemiologic characteristics of these cancers have not been considered together, this review seeks to relate their incidence patterns and risk factors to EBV biology and virus-host interaction in an attempt to help elucidate factors involved in EBV-related carcinogenesis. We include a brief review of EBV virology and primary infection to provide a biologic context for considering the epidemiology, summarize the most salient epidemiologic features of each malignancy, synthesize epidemiologic data by risk factor to uncover commonalities and informative contrasts across the diseases, and propose hypotheses regarding etiologic mechanisms, based on the possible effect of the risk factors at various stages in the viral life cycle.
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            Biology and disease associations of Epstein-Barr virus.

            Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a human herpesvirus which infects almost all of the world's population subclinically during childhood and thereafter remains in the body for life. The virus colonizes antibody-producing (B) cells, which, as relatively long-lived resting cells, are an ideal site for long-term residence. Here EBV evades recognition and destruction by cytotoxic T cells. EBV is passed to naive hosts in saliva, but how the virus gains access to this route of transmission is not entirely clear. EBV carries a set of latent genes that, when expressed in resting B cells, induce cell proliferation and thereby increase the chances of successful virus colonization of the B-cell system during primary infection and the establishment of persistence. However, if this cell proliferation is not controlled, or if it is accompanied by additional genetic events within the infected cell, it can lead to malignancy. Thus EBV acts as a step in the evolution of an ever-increasing list of malignancies which are broadly of lymphoid or epithelial cell origin. In some of these, such as B-lymphoproliferative disease in the immunocompromised host, the role of the virus is central and well defined; in others, such as Burkitt's lymphoma, essential cofactors have been identified which act in concert with EBV in the evolution of the malignant clone. However, in several diseases in which the presence of EBV has more recently been discovered, the role of the virus is unclear. This review describes recent views on the EBV life cycle and its interlinks with normal B-cell biology, and discusses how this interrelationship may be upset and result in EBV-associated disease.
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              Detection of Epstein-Barr virus in invasive breast cancers.

              Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may be a cofactor in the development of different malignancies, including several types of carcinomas. In this study, we investigated the presence of EBV in human breast cancers. We used tissues from 100 consecutive primary invasive breast carcinomas, as well as 30 healthy tissues adjacent to a subset of the tumors. DNA was amplified by use of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), with the primers covering three different regions of the EBV genome. Southern blot analysis was performed by use of a labeled EBV BamHI W restriction fragment as the probe. Infected cells were identified by means of immunohistochemical staining, using monoclonal antibodies directed against the EBV nuclear protein EBNA-1. We were able to detect the EBV genome by PCR in 51% of the tumors, whereas, in 90% of the cases studied, the virus was not detected in healthy tissue adjacent to the tumor (P<.001). The presence of the EBV genome in breast tumors was confirmed by Southern blot analysis. The observed EBNA-1 expression was restricted to a fraction (5%-30%) of tumor epithelial cells. Moreover, no immunohistochemical staining was observed in tumors that were negative for EBV by PCR. EBV was detected more frequently in breast tumors that were hormone-receptor negative (P =.01) and those of high histologic grade (P =.03). EBV detection in primary tumors varied by nodal status (P =.01), largely because of the difference between subjects with more than three lymph nodes versus less than or equal to three lymph nodes involved (72% versus 44%). Our results demonstrated the presence of the EBV genome in a large subset of breast cancers. The virus was restricted to tumor cells and was more frequently associated with the most aggressive tumors. EBV may be a cofactor in the development of some breast cancers.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                21 February 2012
                : 7
                : 2
                : e31656
                [1]Department of Breast Surgery, School of Medicine, Shandong University, Qilu Hospital, Ji'nan, Shandong, People's Republic of China
                Health Canada, Canada
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: QY. Performed the experiments: QH NZ. Analyzed the data: QH NZ. Wrote the paper: QH QY.

                Huo et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                : 13 November 2011
                : 17 January 2012
                Page count
                Pages: 8
                Research Article
                Clinical Research Design
                Infectious Diseases
                Viral Diseases
                Obstetrics and Gynecology
                Cancers and Neoplasms



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