Sera from patients with undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma contain a factor which abrogates specific epstein-barr virus antigen-induced lymphocyte response



A unique association of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) with the undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a well acknowledged phenomenon. We report here the detection of a factor present in the sera of NPC patients which inhibits the blastogenic response of lymphocytes from EBV seropositive individuals to EB virions or soluble antigens. This lymphocyte-stimulation inhibitor (LSI) was found to be associated with the IgA fraction of the serum immunoglobulins. No inhibitory activity was detected in the sera and their immunoglobulin fractions from healthy (both EBV-seropositive and seronegative) individuals and patients with other carcinomas of the head and neck region. Interestingly, the IgA-LSI was absent in the sera of NPC patients who were successfully treated and remained in remission, while it was readily detectable in the sera of NPC patients in relapse. LSI-positive IgA fractions did not inhibit mitogenic response of lymphocytes to phytohemagglutinin. Taken together, the data presented suggest that LSI is a specific inhibitor of the response of sensitized lymphocytes to EBV antigens and that it may indeed represent a marker of great clinical significance regarding undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma, particularly for its prognosis.