Seroprevalence of IgA anti Epstein-Barr virus is high among family members of nasopharyngeal cancer patients and individuals presenting with chronic complaints in head and neck area

Susanna Hilda Hutajulu*, Jajah Fachiroh, Gabriella Argy, Sagung Rai Indrasari, Luh Putu Lusy Indrawati, Dewi Kartikawati Paramita, Theodola Baning Rahayu Jati, Jaap M. Middeldorp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Epstein-Barr (EBV) infection and presence of a nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) case in the family increases the risk of developing NPC. Aberrant anti-EBV immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies (EBV-IgA) may be present in the sera of non-cancer individuals and predict NPC. Limited studies report the presence of EBV-IgA antibodies within non-cancer individuals in Indonesia where the disease is prevalent. This study aimed at exploring whether EBV-IgA was found more frequently among first degree relatives of NPC patients and individuals presenting with chronic symptoms in the head and neck area compared to healthy controls. A total of 967 non-cancer subjects were recruited, including 509 family members of NPC cases, 196 individuals having chronic complaints in the head and neck region, and 262 healthy donors of the local blood bank. Sera were analyzed using a standardized peptide-based EBV-IgA ELISA. Overall, 61.6% of all individuals had anti-EBV IgA reactivity equal to or below cut off value (CoV). Seroreactivity above CoV was significantly higher in females (38.7%) compared to males (28.7%) (p = 0.001). Older individuals had more seroreactivity above CoV (42.5%) than the younger ones (26.4%) (p< 0.001). Seroprevalence was significantly higher in family members of NPC patients (41.7%), compared to 32.7% of individuals with chronic head and neck problems (p = 0.028) and 16.4% healthy blood donors (p< 0.001). As conclusion, this study showed a significant higher seroprevalence in healthy family members of NPC cases and subjects presenting with chronic symptoms in the head and neck area compared to healthy individuals from the general community. This finding indicates that both groups have elevated risk of developing NPC and may serve as targets for a regional NPC screening program.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0180683
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

Cite this