Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) persists for life in the infected host. Little is known about EBV reactivation and regulation of virus persistence in healthy individuals. We examined tonsils of chronic tonsillitis patients to detect EBV transcripts, EBV genomes and lytic proteins. LMP1 transcripts were observed in 11 of 15 specimens and BZLF1 transcripts were detected in six. Multiple copies of EBV genome equivalents per cell, and ZEBRA- and viral capsid antigen-positive cells were also detected in tonsillar lymphocytes. These results indicate that EBV productively infected cells may survive in the face of immune surveillance in the tonsils. Thus, EBV replication may occur in tonsillar lymphocytes, and tonsillar lymphoid tissues may play a role in the maintenance of EBV load .


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