Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen (EBNA) Antibody (IgG)

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Also known as: EpsteinBarr Virus Nuclear Antigen EBNA Antibody IgG

Ebv Nuclear Ag (Ebna)

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a virus that typically causes a mild to moderate illness. These tests detect antibodies to EBV in the blood and help establish a diagnosis of an EBV infection. Epstein-Barr virus causes an infection that is very common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 95% of people in the United States will have been infected by EBV by the time they are 40 years old.
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The Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen (EBNA) Antibody (IgG) test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Brief Description: The Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen (EBNA) IgG Antibody test is a specialized serological assay that detects the presence of IgG antibodies against the Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen. EBV is a member of the herpesvirus family and is associated with various clinical manifestations, including infectious mononucleosis and other health conditions.

Also Known As: EBNA Test, EBNA Ab Test, EBV Nuclear Antigen Antibody Test, EBV NA Ab Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is an Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen Antibody test ordered?

When a person has symptoms that would indicate mono but a negative mono test, as well as when a pregnant woman has flu-like symptoms and her doctor wants to know whether the symptoms are caused by EBV or another microorganism, EBV antibody testing may be recommended. Some indications and symptoms of mono include:

  • extreme tiredness or weakness
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • unwell throat
  • enlarged lymph nodes in the armpits or neck
  • enlarged liver or spleen

When a medical professional wants to confirm prior EBV exposure, testing may be required. Testing may occasionally be repeated if the medical professional wants to monitor antibody levels or if the results of the initial test were negative but the doctor still believes that the patient's symptoms are being caused by EBV.

What does an Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen Antibody blood test check for?

A mild to moderate disease is often brought on by the Epstein-Barr virus. Epstein-Barr virus blood tests aid in the diagnosis of EBV infection by detecting EBV antibodies in the blood.

Infections caused by the Epstein-Barr virus are highly prevalent. The majority of Americans have had EBV infection at some point in their life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus is quickly spread from person to person and is very contagious. It can be transmitted through close contact, such as kissing, sharing of utensils or cups, and saliva of sick people.

The incubation period after initial EBV exposure lasts for a number of weeks before any symptoms may manifest. The virus multiplies during the acute initial infection. The infection then starts to become less prevalent and the symptoms start to subside, but it never totally disappears. Latent EBV can reactivate and stays dormant in the body for the rest of a person's life, although it typically poses few risks unless the individual has seriously compromised immune function.

Most persons who receive EBV as children show little to no symptoms. But if the first infection happens in adolescence, it can lead to infectious mononucleosis, sometimes known as mono, which is characterized by fatigue, fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, an enlarged spleen, and occasionally an enlarged liver. About 25% of adolescents and young adults with the infection experience these symptoms, which typically go away in a month or two.

Mono is normally identified by a person's symptoms, a full blood count, and the results of a mono test. A mono test will come back negative in about 25% of patients with mono; this is particularly true of youngsters. These patients do not produce heterophile antibodies. If these persons are currently infected with the EBV virus, it can be determined whether or not their symptoms are caused by that infection using tests for EBV antibodies.

The most typical cause of mono is EBV. The CDC lists CMV, hepatitis A, B, or C, rubella, and toxoplasmosis as examples of additional causes of mono. It can occasionally be crucial to separate EBV from these other diseases. For instance, determining the root of a pregnant woman's viral disease symptoms may be crucial. A primary EBV infection, which has not been proved to harm an unborn child, can be distinguished from CMV, herpes simplex virus, or toxoplasmosis infections through testing because these conditions can complicate pregnancy and provide a risk to the fetus.

Additionally, it may be crucial to rule out EBV infection and search for other potential reasons of the symptoms. Antibiotics must be administered to those who have group A streptococcus-related infections, such as those who have strep throat. It's possible for someone to have strep throat instead of mono, or even both illnesses simultaneously.

There are numerous tests available to check for various EBV antibody types and classes. The body produces antibodies, which are proteins, as an immunological reaction to several Epstein-Barr virus antigens. Each of these EBV antibodies has a fluctuating level during a primary EBV infection as the infection develops. The level of these antibodies in the blood can help with diagnosis and normally informs the medical professional of the infection's stage and whether it is a recent or prior infection.

Antibodies against Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen generally does not manifest until the acute illness has subsided; it appears 2 to 4 months after the initial infection and then persists for the rest of one's life.

Lab tests often ordered with an Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen Antibody test:

This test is often part of a broader evaluation for EBV infection and its potential complications. Here are some tests commonly ordered alongside it:

  1. EBV VCA (Viral Capsid Antigen) IgM and IgG Antibodies:

    • Purpose: To detect antibodies to the viral capsid antigen of EBV, indicative of current or past infection.
    • Why Is It Ordered: VCA IgM antibodies typically indicate a recent EBV infection, while VCA IgG antibodies suggest past infection. These tests help to clarify the stage of EBV infection.
  2. EBV Early Antigen (EA) IgG Antibody:

    • Purpose: To detect antibodies against the early antigen of EBV.
    • Why Is It Ordered: EA antibodies are often present in active infections and may indicate reactivation or persistence of the virus.
  3. Complete Blood Count (CBC) with Differential:

    • Purpose: To evaluate overall blood health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To check for signs of infection, such as increased white blood cells, and to detect atypical lymphocytes often seen in infectious mononucleosis.
  4. Liver Function Test:

    • Purpose: To assess liver health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: EBV infection can affect the liver, leading to elevated liver enzymes.
  5. Heterophile Antibody Test (Monospot):

    • Purpose: To detect heterophile antibodies, which are typically present in acute EBV infection causing mononucleosis.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To help confirm a diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis, especially in the acute phase.
  6. C-Reactive Protein (CRP) or Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR):

    • Purpose: To measure markers of inflammation in the body.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To assess for inflammation, which can accompany infections and autoimmune responses.
  7. Immunoglobulin Levels (IgG, IgM, IgA):

    • Purpose: To measure the levels of various immunoglobulins.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To evaluate the immune system's response, particularly in cases where an immunodeficiency or an atypical response to EBV is suspected.

These tests, when ordered alongside an EBV EBNA IgG Antibody test, provide a comprehensive evaluation of a suspected or past EBV infection. They are crucial for diagnosing EBV-related conditions, understanding the stage of infection, and assessing potential complications. The specific combination of tests will depend on the individual’s symptoms, clinical presentation, and medical history.

Conditions where an Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen Antibody test is recommended:

The EBNA IgG Antibody test is essential for diagnosing and monitoring various conditions, including:

  1. Infectious Mononucleosis: The test aids in diagnosing infectious mononucleosis, a viral illness caused by EBV that typically affects adolescents and young adults.

  2. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Some cases of chronic fatigue syndrome have been associated with EBV infection. The test can help assess the role of EBV in this condition.

How does my health care provider use an Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen Antibody test?

If a person has symptoms but a negative mono test, blood tests for Epstein-Barr virus antibodies can be done to assist detect EBV infection, the most prevalent cause of infectious mononucleosis.

One or more EBV antibody tests may be requested in addition to tests for cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, and other infections in pregnant women who exhibit symptoms of a viral disease in order to help differentiate between EBV and other disorders that may present with similar symptoms.

An asymptomatic person may be given these tests to determine whether they have ever been exposed to EBV or are predisposed to developing a primary EBV infection. Although it is not usually done, it may be requested if a person—such as a teenager or someone with an impaired immune system—has recently been in close proximity to someone who has mono.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise running a number of tests to assist identify someone's susceptibility to EBV, as well as to look for recent, past, or reactivated EBV infections.

What do my Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen Antibody test results mean?

Results of EBV antibody testing must be interpreted carefully. It is necessary to take into account the test subject's indications and symptoms in addition to their medical background. A physician may seek the advice of an expert in infectious illnesses, particularly one with knowledge of EBV testing.

Most Common Questions About the Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen IgG Antibody test:

Purpose and Indications for the Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen IgG Antibody Test

What is the main purpose of the Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen IgG Antibody test?

The Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen (EBNA) IgG Antibody test is used to detect the presence of IgG antibodies directed against the nuclear antigen of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the blood. The presence of these antibodies indicates a past infection with EBV.

When might a physician order the Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen IgG Antibody test?

A physician might order the test when a patient presents with symptoms suggestive of a past EBV infection, like infectious mononucleosis, or when evaluating the immune status of a patient with regards to EBV, especially in cases of suspected chronic EBV infection or potential complications associated with EBV.

Clinical Significance of Test Results

What does a positive Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen IgG Antibody test result mean?

A positive result indicates that the patient has been infected with EBV at some point in the past. EBNA IgG antibodies typically appear several months after the initial infection and remain detectable for life. Their presence does not specify when the infection occurred.

If I had mononucleosis in the past, will the Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen IgG Antibody test be positive?

Yes. Infectious mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. If you had mononucleosis in the past, your body would have produced EBNA IgG antibodies to fight the virus, and the test would likely be positive, indicating past exposure to EBV.

Interpretation and Follow-up

If the Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen IgG Antibody test is negative, does that mean I've never had an EBV infection?

A negative test suggests that you may not have been previously infected with EBV or that your antibody levels are too low to be detected. However, it's essential to consider the entire clinical picture and other test results. In some cases, retesting may be recommended.

Do positive results mean that I have an active EBV infection?

Not necessarily. A positive Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen IgG Antibody test indicates past exposure to the virus. To determine if there's an active infection, other tests that measure different types of EBV antibodies or detect the virus itself might be needed.

What other tests might be performed in conjunction with the Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen IgG Antibody test?

Other tests related to EBV might include the VCA-IgM, VCA-IgG, and EA-D IgG tests. These tests measure antibodies against other components of the EBV and help distinguish between recent, past, and reactivated EBV infections.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

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