The frequency of antibodies to herpesvirus type 2 early antigen (AG-4) is significantly greater in women with carcinoma of the cervix than in matched cancer controls. The present study was designed to determine whether AG-4 seronegativity in a minority of women with cervical carcinoma is dependent on time or method of treatment and whether or not the serological profile is correlated with prognosis. Anti-AG-4 complement-fixing antibodies were assayed in 34 newly diagnosed cases of squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix prior to therapy, 1 month after treatment and at 3-month intervals. Clinical outcome was evaluated after 22 to 47 months (mean, 36.4 months). There were 15 AG-4 antibody positive cases at presentation and during the follow-up period (seropositive group). Eleven patients were seronegative at presentation and developed AG-4 antibodies after radiation and/or surgical treatment (seroconversion group). Eight patients lacked AG-4 antibodies at all sample times (seronegative group). The progression-free rate in the three groups was as follows: seropositive, 94%; seroconversion, 73%; and seronegative, 38%. In a subgroup of 23 patients treated with radiation only, the progression-free rates were: seropositive, 100%; seroconversion, 63%; and seronegative, 33%. AG-4 seronegative status was not related to (a) clinical stage at presentation; (b) tumor size at presentation; (c) lack of antibodies to late herpesvirus type 2 antigens; or (d) to T-lymphocytopenia. The results suggest that herpesvirus type 2 AG-4 seronegativity in the minority of cervical cancer patients does not depend on the time of sampling. Seropositivity may have a favorable prognostic significance.

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Supported by USPHS Grants CA 12197 and CA 12382 from the National Cancer Institute.

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