History of chickenpox and shingles and prevalence of antibodies to varicella-zoster virus and three other herpesviruses among adults with glioma and controls

Am J Epidemiol. 2005 May 15;161(10):929-38. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwi119.


Whether viruses or immunologic factors might cause or prevent human brain cancer is of interest. Statistically significant inverse associations of adult glioma with history of chickenpox and immunoglobulin G antibodies to varicella-zoster virus have been reported. The authors evaluate associations of immunoglobulin G antibodies to varicella-zoster virus and three other herpesviruses among 229 adults with glioma and 289 controls in the San Francisco Bay Area Adult Glioma Study (1997-2000). Cases were less likely than controls to report a history of chickenpox (for self-reported cases vs. controls: the age-, gender-, and ethnicity-adjusted odds ratio = 0.59, 95% confidence interval: 0.40, 0.86), and they also had lower levels of immunoglobulin G to varicella-zoster virus (for being in the highest quartile vs. the lowest quartile: the age-, gender-, and ethnicity-adjusted odds ratio = 0.41, 95% confidence interval: 0.24, 0.70). The inverse association with anti-varicella-zoster virus immunoglobulin G was most marked for glioblastoma multiforme cases versus controls and was only somewhat attenuated by excluding subjects taking high-dose steroids and other medications. Cases and controls did not differ notably for positivity to three other herpesviruses, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus. Cohort studies may help to clarify the nature of the association between immunity to and/or clinical manifestations of varicella-zoster virus and glioblastoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • California / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chickenpox / epidemiology*
  • Chickenpox / immunology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Glioma / epidemiology*
  • Glioma / immunology
  • Glioma / therapy
  • Herpes Zoster / epidemiology*
  • Herpes Zoster / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Radiotherapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Distribution
  • Simplexvirus / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Immunoglobulin G