Immunoglobulin A-induced shift of Epstein-Barr virus tissue tropism

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Science  20 Mar 1992:
Vol. 255, Issue 5051, pp. 1578-1580
DOI: 10.1126/science.1312750


Increased immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) appear months to years before the clinical onset of nasopharyngeal carcinoma and define populations at high risk for this EBV-associated epithelial cancer common in south China. In the human HT-29 epithelial cell line, polymeric IgA (pIgA) specific for EBV promoted infection of the otherwise refractory epithelial cells. When bound to pIgA, EBV entered epithelial cells through secretory component-mediated IgA transport but no longer infected B lymphocytes. Such an immune-induced shift in EBV tissue tropism provides a paradigm for endogenous spread of EBV in the immune host that predicts infectious sequelae of epithelium.

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