bridges at calvin.bwh.harvard.edu
Sat Apr 20 06:18:04 EST 1996
>About 30 years ago there was a not-very-good diagnostic test for
>mononucleosis that involved mixing a sample of the patient's serum
>with sheep erythrocytes. I think the test was positive if the sheep
Mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which we now know infects
B-lymphocytes and disrupts their metabolic pattern. Interestingly, one can
infect B-lymphocytes in vitro with EBV and the cells are "immortalized", and
will grow continuously in culture.
The B-lymphocytes can produce antibody, and in response to EBV infection often
produce an antibody that can agglutinate sheep red cells called "heterophil"
antibodies. The antibodies are made spontaneously, and are directed against
particular determinants on sheep red cells. The test is positive in about 80%
of young adults with mononucleosis, but has been superceded by other more
More information about the Bioforum