Simian virus 40 (SV40) genome sequences have been detected in human non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) tissues, and past infection with SV40 may be a risk factor for NHL. We conducted a population-based nested case-control study to investigate the association between serum antibodies to SV40 and incident NHL. Two research serum banks were established in Washington County, MD, with >45,000 volunteers contributing blood samples collected in 1974 and 1989. Incident cases of NHL diagnosed through 2002 (n = 170) were identified among participants by linkage to population-based cancer registries. Two controls were matched to each case (n = 340) on age, sex, and date of blood draw. Circulating immunoglobulin G antibodies to SV40 were measured using virus-like particle (VLP) ELISA. Positive samples were tested for cross-reactivity with JC virus (JCV) and BK virus (BKV) through competitive inhibition assays. Associations between SV40 antibody seropositivity and NHL were estimated using conditional logistic regression. Whereas SV40 antibodies were detected by VLP ELISA in 15% of cases and 10% of controls [matched odds ratio (OR), 1.97; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.03-3.76], the SV40 reactivity of 85% of the SV40 antibody-positive sera was decreased by adsorption with BKV and/or JCV VLPs. Antibodies specific for SV40 (not cross-reactive) were identified in only 1.8% of cases and 1.6% of controls (OR, 1.51; 95% CI, 0.41-5.52). Our findings suggest that past infection with SV40 is not associated with an increased risk of developing NHL.
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