Elevated antibody titers to Epstein-Barr virus prior to the diagnosis of Epstein-Barr-virus-associated gastric adenocarcinoma

Int J Cancer. 1995 Mar 3;60(5):642-4. doi: 10.1002/ijc.2910600513.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has recently been identified in the tumor cells of patients with gastric carcinoma. We tested pre-morbid serum samples from a carefully monitored cohort of Japanese men in order to investigate the possibility that patients with EBV-associated gastric cancer represent a sub-set of individuals with long-standing difficulties in appropriately managing EBV infection. From a serum bank, we obtained 108 samples derived from 54 patients destined to develop gastric adenocarcinoma and 54 controls. Samples were tested under code for antibodies to EBV-capsid antigen, early antigen and nuclear antigen. Individuals who were positive for IgA antibodies against EBV viral-capsid antigen (VCA) and IgG antibodies against the R component of EBV early antigen were at a 3.9-fold and 1.9-fold excess risk of disease, respectively. Antibody titers to EBV VCA were significantly higher in those destined to get EBV-associated gastric cancer than those subsequently developing non-EBV-associated gastric cancer or age-and-gender-matched controls. These findings suggest that the inability to control EBV infection on a long-term basis exists many years prior to the development of EBV-associated gastric cancer, and that EBV may play an etiologic role in this sub-set of malignancies.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / microbiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / virology*
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • Capsid Proteins*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology
  • Helicobacter pylori / immunology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / epidemiology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / virology*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / pathogenicity
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Stomach Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / virology*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / epidemiology
  • Tumor Virus Infections / virology*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antigens, Viral
  • Capsid Proteins
  • Epstein-Barr viral capsid antigen
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G