Selective impairment of lymphocyte reactivity to varicella-zoster virus antigen among untreated patients with lymphoma

A. M. Arvin, Richard B Pollard, L. E. Rasmussen, T. C. Merigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Herpes zoster is a frequent complication of lymphoreticular malignancy. In this study two assays of in vitro cellular immune response to varicella-zoster virus (VZV) antigen, lymphocyte transformation and interferon production, were performed in normal subjects with recent and remote VZV infection. The responses of patients with lymphoma were measured before treatment and during long-term remission and then compared with those of normal subjects. Despite levels of antibody to VZV that were equivalent to those in normal subjects, 44% of the untreated lymphoma patients showed a lower transformation response to VZV antigen than the normal patients. Production of interferon in response to VZV antigen was absent in 32% of the untreated patients. In contrast, lymphocyte responses in untreated patients to herpes simplex virus antigen were within the range observed in a normal population. Interferon production by lymphocytes in response to cytomegalovirus antigen was also lower among untreated lymphoma patients than among normal patients, but lymphocyte transformation was not. Twenty-two percent of lymphoma patients in long-term remission continued to have diminished cellular immune responses to VZV antigen. Observations in these patient populations and in normal subjects with acute herpes zoster suggest that deficiencies in in vitro lymphocyte responses may correlate with increased susceptibility to clinical infection with VZV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-540
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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