Comparison of three different serological techniques for primary diagnosis and monitoring of nasopharyngeal carcinoma in two age groups from Tunisia

H Karray, W Ayadi, L Fki, A Hammami, J Daoud, M M Drira, M Frikha, R Jlidi, J M Middeldorp

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Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) in Tunisia is characterized by its bimodal age distribution involving juvenile patients of 10-24 years and adult patients of 40-60 years. Three serological techniques were compared for primary diagnosis (N = 117) and post-treatment monitoring (N = 21) of NPC patients separated in two age groups. Immunofluorescence assay (IFA) was used as the "gold standard" for detection of IgG and IgA antibodies reactive with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) early (EA) and viral capsid (VCA) antigens. Results were compared with ELISA measuring IgG and IgA antibody reactivity to defined EBNA1, EA, and VCA antigens. Immunoblot was used to reveal the molecular diversity underlying the anti-EBV IgG and IgA antibody responses. The results indicate that young NPC patients have significantly more restricted anti-EBV IgG and IgA antibody responses with aberrant IgG VCA/EA levels in 78% compared to 91.7% in elder patients. IgA VCA/EA was detected in 50% of young patients versus 89.4% for the elder group (P < 0.001). Immunoblot revealed a reduced overall diversity of EBV antigen recognition for both IgG and IgA in young patients. A good concordance was observed between ELISA and IFA for primary NPC diagnosis with 81-91% overall agreement. Even better agreement (95-100%) was found for antibody changes during follow-up monitoring, showing declining reactivity in patients in remission and increasing reactivity in patients with persistent disease or relapse. ELISA for IgA anti-VCA-p18 and immunoblot proved most sensitive for predicting tumor relapse. VCA-p18 IgA ELISA seems suitable for routine diagnosis and early detection of NPC complication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-602
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005

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