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Letters
August 1, 1990

Antibodies to Epstein-Barr Virus in 50 Patients With Thymic Tumor

Author Affiliations

Hôpital Claude-Bernard Paris, France
Faculté Alexis Carrel Lyons, France
Centre Chirurgical Marie-Lannelongue Paris, France

Hôpital Claude-Bernard Paris, France
Faculté Alexis Carrel Lyons, France
Centre Chirurgical Marie-Lannelongue Paris, France

JAMA. 1990;264(5):570-571. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450050028011
Abstract

To the Editor.—  Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has a pharyngeal tropism and represents an initial cofactor in the development of nasopharyngeal carcinoma.1 The report of an association of EBV with a "lymphoepitheliomalike" thymic carcinoma, a tumor that involves tissues that originate from the primitive pharynx, caused us to investigate a series of patients with thymic tumors.2,3We determined the titers of antibodies to EBV in the serum samples from 50 patients, aged 28 to 78 years, with thymic tumors. These consisted of 13 benign thymomas, 26 malignant thymomas, 5 thymic carcinomas, and 6 lymphomas with thymic localization, including 5 patients with Hodgkin's disease. The antibodies assayed by immunofluorescence were IgG to the viral capsid antigen (VCA), antibodies to the EBV nuclear antigen, IgG antibody to the early antigen, and IgM antibody to VCA (Table).As can be seen, IgG antibody to early antigen, which usually reflects replication of the virus, was detectable in 5 (38%) of 13 patients with a benign thymoma but in 26 (70%) of 37 patients with one of the three types of malignant tumors (P<.05). Low titers of IgM antibody to VCA, usually only present during the primary EBV infection, were

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