Increased antibody levels to stage-specific Epstein–Barr virus antigens in systemic autoimmune diseases reveal a common pathology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The immune responses to antigens from different stages of the Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) life cycle were investigated in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sjögren’s syndrome (SS), and systemic sclerosis (SSc) to gain knowledge of EBV’s involvement in the etiology of systemic autoimmune diseases (SADs) and for an overview of the humoral immune responses against EBV. Investigations were performed by the use of ELISA. IgM, IgA, and IgG antibody binding to 11 EBV antigens: EBNA1, EBNA2, BALF5, EAD, BALF2, EA/R, VCA p18, VCA p23, gB, gp350, and gp42 were examined in serum pools from SAD patients and healthy controls (HCs). Increased antibody levels against the 11 EBV antigens in the SAD pools were seen compared to the HC pool. Specifically, SLE was characterized by strongly increased IgA to EAD both compared to HCs and other SADs, and RA was characterized by increased IgM levels to several EBV antigens. The SADs may be partly distinguished by their differential immune responses to various antigens in the EBV life cycle. All together, these findings support an association between EBV infection and SADs.


  • Louise Sternbaek
  • Anette H. Draborg
  • Mark T. Østerlund
  • Line V. Iversen
  • Lone Troelsen
  • Elke Theander
  • Christoffer T. Nielsen
  • Søren Jacobsen
  • Gunnar Houen
External organisations
  • Danish Serum Institute, Copenhagen
  • Copenhagen University Hospital
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Phase Holographic Imaging PHI AB
  • University College Lillebaelt
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Rheumatology and Autoimmunity
  • Microbiology in the medical area


  • antibodiess, Epstein–Barr virus, IgA, IgG, IgM, stage-specific antigens, systemic autoimmune diseases
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-16
JournalScandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation
Issue number1-2
Early online date2019 Feb 6
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch