Antibody titers to Epstein-Barr virus antigens were determined in the sera of 372 atomic bomb survivors to evaluate the effect of the previous radiation exposure on immune competence against the latent infection of the virus. The proportion of persons with high titers (≥1:40) of IgG antibodies to the early antigen was significantly elevated in the exposed survivors. Furthermore, the distribution of IgM titers against the viral capsid antigen was significantly affected by radiation dose with an increased occurrence of titers of 1:5 and 1:10 in the exposed persons, although the dose effect was only marginally suggestive when persons with rheumatoid factor were eliminated from the analysis. These results suggest that reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus in the latent stage occurs more frequently in the survivors, even though this might not be affected by the radiation dose. Otherwise, there was neither an increased trend in the prevalence of high titers (≥1:640) of IgG antibodies to the viral capsid antigen among the exposed people nor a correlation between the radiation exposure and distributions of titers of IgA antibodies to the viral capsid antigen or antibodies to the anti-Epstein-Barr virus-associated nuclear antigen.

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