Epstein-Barr-virus-specific IgA and IgG serum antibodies in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Br J Cancer. 1976 Dec;34(6):655-60. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1976.228.


The sera of 73 patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), 28 patients with other carcinomas (OC) and 89 healthy subjects (HS) were tested for IgG and IgA antibodies to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) viral capsid antigen (VCA). The majority of the NPC sera had IgG titres of 160 or above, whereas the majority of the other sera had titres below 160. For IgA reactivity to EBV-VCA, 68 of 73 (93-2%) NPC sera had titres of greater than or equal to 10. In contrast, only 6 of 28 (21-4%) OC sera and none of the HS sera had such titres. The mean serum concentrations of IgG, IgA, IgM and C3' were also determined in 55 NPC and 20 OC patients and 18 HS. They were all significantly higher in the NPC sera than in the HS. Although the concentrations of IgG and C3' were not significantly different in the two carcinoma groups, the concentrations of IgA and IgM were significantly higher in the NPC group than in OC. These findings appear to reflect the intensity of EBV-specific antigenic stimulation in NPC, and the EBV-specific serum IgA reactivity may be a sueful aid to the diagnosis of NPC, especially in cases with an occult primary tumour. It may be also of value as a screening test in people at high risk.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis*
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A*
  • Immunoglobulin G*
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G