History of chickenpox and shingles and prevalence of antibodies to varicella-zoster virus and three other herpesviruses among adults with glioma and controls

Margaret Wrensch, Adriana Weinberg, John Wiencke, Rei Miike, Jennette Sison, Joseph Wiemels, Geoffrey Barger, Gerald DeLorenze, Kenneth Aldape, Karl Kelsey
American Journal of Epidemiology 2005 May 15, 161 (10): 929-38
Whether viruses or immunologic factors might cause or prevent human brain cancer is of interest. Statistically significant inverse associations of adult glioma with history of chickenpox and immunoglobulin G antibodies to varicella-zoster virus have been reported. The authors evaluate associations of immunoglobulin G antibodies to varicella-zoster virus and three other herpesviruses among 229 adults with glioma and 289 controls in the San Francisco Bay Area Adult Glioma Study (1997-2000). Cases were less likely than controls to report a history of chickenpox (for self-reported cases vs. controls: the age-, gender-, and ethnicity-adjusted odds ratio = 0.59, 95% confidence interval: 0.40, 0.86), and they also had lower levels of immunoglobulin G to varicella-zoster virus (for being in the highest quartile vs. the lowest quartile: the age-, gender-, and ethnicity-adjusted odds ratio = 0.41, 95% confidence interval: 0.24, 0.70). The inverse association with anti-varicella-zoster virus immunoglobulin G was most marked for glioblastoma multiforme cases versus controls and was only somewhat attenuated by excluding subjects taking high-dose steroids and other medications. Cases and controls did not differ notably for positivity to three other herpesviruses, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus. Cohort studies may help to clarify the nature of the association between immunity to and/or clinical manifestations of varicella-zoster virus and glioblastoma.

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