Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the etiological agent of acute infectious mononucleosis (IM). Since acute IM is a self-resolving disease with most patients regaining health in 1-3 weeks there have been few studies examining molecular signatures in early acute stages of the disease. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been shown, however, to influence immune cell function and consequently the generation of antibody responses in IM. In this study, we performed a comprehensive analysis of differentially expressed miRNAs in early stage uncomplicated acute IM. miRNAs were profiled from patient peripheral blood obtained at the time of IM diagnosis and at subsequent time points, and pathway analysis performed to identify important immune and cell signaling pathways. We identified 215 differentially regulated miRNAs at the most acute stage of infection when the patients initially sought medical help. The number of differentially expressed miRNAs decreased to 148 and 68 at 1 and 2 months post-primary infection, with no significantly changed miRNAs identified at 7 months post-infection. Interferon signaling, T and B cell signaling and antigen presentation were the top pathways influenced by the miRNAs associated with IM. Thus, a dynamic and regulated expression profile of miRNA accompanies the early acute immune response, and resolution of infection, in IM.
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