Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been found to be associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), and antibodies with high frequency and titer to EBV proteins have been found in sera from NPC patients. Raji cells, an EBV genome-carrying nonproducer cell line, treated with 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate and n-butyrate induced a unique EBV DNA polymerase which has properties similar to the EBV DNA polymerase induced by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate in P3HR-1 cells, an EBV producer cell line. The possible presence of antibodies to this EBV DNA polymerase in NPC patient serum was examined. The mean number of EBV DNA polymerase units neutralized was 380 ± 168 units/ml serum (mean ± SD) in 48 sera from patients with NPC, whereas that in the sera from 52 healthy donors was 62 ± 56 units/ml (p < 0.01). The EBV DNA polymerase antibody was found to be associated with the immunoglobulin G but not the immunoglobulin A fraction, and its titer was not correlated with the titers against EBV DNase or virus capsid antigen-immunoglobulin A. Whether the EBV DNA polymerase antibody is against the EBV DNA polymerase core protein or its stimulating protein is still being investigated. This study demonstrated the high frequency and high titer of antibody against EBV DNA polymerase in serum from NPC patients and suggested the potential of utilizing this antibody titer to complement other methods for the early diagnosis or prognosis of NPC.

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Supported by Grant CA 19014 from NIH.

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