The presence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antigens in human palatine tonsil-derived lymphocytes (TDL) was investigated using the indirect fluorescent antibody (FA) technique. The TDL were screened for the presence of EBV early antigen (EA), virus capsid antigen (VCA), and EBV nuclear antigen (EBNA).

In 76% of the patients diagnosed as recurrent exudative tonsillitis, and in 33% diagnosed as recurrent tonsillitis and/or serous otitis media, EBNA was demonstrated in the purified TDLs. No EA- or VCA-producing cells were found in either the glass adsorbed or TDL cell preparations from all of the patients. These data suggest that in our patient sample, the tonsils may serve as a reservoir for EBV carrying lymphocytes and a basis for recurrent disease.


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