In this study we have compared the use of PCR and conventional tissue culture methods to detect Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and throat wash samples. The study population included 29 healthy adult and 20 immunocompromised EBV-seropositive donors. The results show significantly higher EBV detection rates by PCR than the tissue culture methods in throat wash samples from both donor groups (P < 0.01 in healthy donors and P < 0.009 in the immunocompromised donors) and in peripheral blood from the immunocompromised but not from the healthy donors (P < 0.008). Furthermore, when EBV DNA detection rates in throat wash cell pellet and supernatant fluid were compared, a higher positive result was obtained with the cell pellets which reached statistical significance in the immunocompromised group (P < 0.02). No correlation was found between positivity in throat wash and peripheral blood from the same donors.


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