Elevated serum IgA to antigens of EBV is associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). We have tested 620 NPC sera by ELISA for the presence of antibodies to EBV-encoded DNA binding protein, EBV-specific DNA polymerase, early antigen-diffused (EA-D), EBV nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1), EBV-specific thymidine kinase, and BamHI Z fragment EBV replication antigen. Sensitivity of these proteins was in the range of 51.5-79.5% for IgA and 69.4-82.8% for IgG. The complementary use of EBNA-1 with EA-D, however, could increase the sensitivity significantly to 98.1%. Western blot analysis further showed that the combination of EBNA-1 and EA-D is most useful for the detection of NPC. This is the first report of using double biomarkers including EBV gene products from both latent and active infections. The results of this study suggest that EBV in NPC may not be latent alone and that the method may be valuable for the early detection, early treatment, and better survival rate of patients with NPC. Because the application of recombinant EBV protein in ELISA is cost-effective and feasible for mass screening, the method may be of worth for further clinical investigation.

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