BMC cancer 2018 02 1418(1) 190 doi 10.1186/s12885-018-4110-6
Subjects with elevated Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) immunoglobulin A (IgA) titers have a higher risk of developing nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), indicating that reactivation of EBV in the local mucosa might be important for NPC carcinogenesis. Cigarette smoking appears to be one of the environmental risk factors for NPC. However, it remains unclear whether smoking-induced nasopharyngeal carcinogenesis acts through reactivating EBV in the nasopharyngeal mucosa. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the association between cigarette smoking and nasopharyngeal EBV reactivation in a NPC high-risk population.
A NPC high-risk cohort study, established from a population-based NPC screening program of 22,816 subjects, consisted of 1045 subjects with elevated serum IgA antibodies against EBV viral capsid antigen (VCA/IgA). Among high-risk subjects, information on detailed cigarette smoking history was collected among 313 male subjects. The associations between cigarette smoking and EBV antibody levels, EBV DNA load of the nasopharynx were analyzed.
No significant association was observed between either nasopharyngeal EBV DNA load or serum VCA/IgA titers and smoking status, age at smoking initiation, daily smoking intensity, smoking duration, cigarette type, or pack-years of smoking. Cigarette smoking characteristics in all subgroups did not correlate with nasopharyngeal EBV DNA positivity or EBV VCA/IgA seropositivity.
In a population at high risk of NPC, our study suggests that cigarette smoking is neither associated with nasopharyngeal EBV DNA load nor serum VCA/IgA antibody level. Smoking-associated NPC carcinogenesis may act through other mechanisms than reactivating nasopharyngeal EBV replication.