Antibodies against human herpesvirus 8 in black South African patients with cancer
Sitas, Freddy, Carrara, Henri, Beral, Valerie, Newton, Rob, Reeves, Gillian, Bull, Diana, Jentsch, Ute, Pacella-Norman, Rosana, Bourboulia, Dimitra, Whitby, Denise, Boshoff, Chris, Weiss, Robin, Patel, Moosa, Ruff, Paul, Bezwoda, Werner R., Retter, Edna, & Hale, Martin (1999) Antibodies against human herpesvirus 8 in black South African patients with cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 340(24), pp. 1863-1871.
Infection with human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) has been consistently linked to Kaposi's sarcoma, but its mode of transmission, association with other cancers, and interaction with the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) are largely unknown.
Between January 1992 and December 1997, we interviewed 3591 black patients with cancer in Johannesburg and Soweto, South Africa. Blood was tested for antibodies against HIV-1 and HHV-8 in 3344 of the patients. Antibodies against HHV-8 were detected with an indirect immunofluorescence assay. The intensity of the fluorescent signal correlated well with the titers of antibodies (P<0.001). The relations among the presence of anti–HHV-8 antibodies, sociodemographic and behavioral factors, type of cancer, and the presence or absence of coexistent HIV-1 infection were examined with the use of unconditional logistic-regression models.
Among the 3293 subjects with cancers other than Kaposi's sarcoma, the standardized seroprevalence of antibodies against HHV-8 was 32 percent, which did not differ significantly from the standardized seroprevalence among black blood donors. Among these 3293 patients, the prevalence of antibodies against HHV-8 increased with increasing age (P<0.001) and an increasing number of sexual partners (P=0.05) and decreased with increasing years of education (P=0.007); it was not strongly associated with HIV-1 infection. Anti–HHV-8 antibodies were more frequent among black than white blood donors (P<0.001). Among the 51 patients with Kaposi's sarcoma, the standardized seroprevalence of antibodies against HHV-8 was 83 percent, significantly higher than the prevalence among those without Kaposi's sarcoma (P<0.001). For 16 other specific types of cancer, including multiple myeloma (108 cases) and prostate cancer (202 cases), the variation in the standardized seroprevalence of antibodies against HHV-8 was not remarkable. At a given intensity of fluorescence of anti–HHV-8 antibodies, Kaposi's sarcoma was more frequent among HIV-1–positive patients than among those who were HIV-1–negative (P<0.001).
Among black patients with cancer in South Africa, the seroprevalence of anti–HHV-8 antibodies is high and is specifically associated with Kaposi's sarcoma, particularly at high titers.
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