Identification of anti-Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antibody signature in EBV-associated gastric carcinoma.


Around 10% of gastric carcinomas (GC) contain Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA. We characterized the GC-specific antibody response to this common infection, which may provide a noninvasive method to detect EBV-positive GC and elucidate its contribution to carcinogenesis.

Plasma samples from EBV-positive (n = 28) and EBV-negative (n = 34) Latvian GC patients were immune-profiled against 85 EBV proteins on a multi-microbial Nucleic Acid Programmable Protein Array (EBV-NAPPA). Antibody responses were normalized for each sample as ratios to the median signal intensity (MNI) across all antigens, with seropositivity defined as MNI ≥ 2. Antibodies with ≥ 20% sensitivity at 95% specificity for tumor EBV status were verified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and validated in independent samples from Korea and Poland (n = 24 EBV-positive, n = 65 EBV-negative).

Forty anti-EBV IgG and eight IgA antibodies were detected by EBV-NAPPA in ≥ 10% of EBV-positive or EBV-negative GC patients, of which nine IgG antibodies were discriminative for tumor EBV status. Eight of these nine were verified and seven were validated by ELISA: anti-LF2 (odds ratio = 110.0), anti-BORF2 (54.2), anti-BALF2 (44.1), anti-BaRF1 (26.7), anti-BXLF1 (12.8), anti-BRLF1 (8.3), and anti-BLLF3 (5.4). The top three had areas under receiver operating characteristics curves of 0.81-0.85 for distinguishing tumor EBV status.

The EBV-associated GC-specific humoral response was exclusively directed against lytic cycle immediate-early and early antigens, unlike other EBV-associated malignancies such as nasopharyngeal carcinoma and lymphoma where humoral response is primarily directed against late lytic antigens. Specific anti-EBV antibodies could have utility for clinical diagnosis, epidemiologic studies, and immune-based precision treatment of EBV-positive GC.

  • Camargo MC
  • Chung Y
  • Cohen JI
  • Gao W
  • Karthikeyan K
  • Kim KM
  • LaBaer J
  • Leja M
  • Lissowska J
  • Park J
  • Qiu J
  • Rabkin CS
  • Sivins A
  • Song L
  • Song M
  • Van Duine J
  • Williams S
PubMed ID
Appears In
Gastric Cancer, 2021, 24 (4)