History of chickenpox in glioma risk: a report from the glioma international case–control study (GICC)

E. Susan Amirian, Michael E. Scheurer, Renke Zhou, Margaret R. Wrensch, Georgina N Armstrong, Daniel Lachance, Sara H. Olson, Ching C. Lau, Elizabeth B. Claus, Jill S Barnholtz-Sloan, Dora Il'yasova, Joellen Schildkraut, Francis Ali-Osman, Siegal Sadetzki, Robert B. Jenkins, Jonine L. Bernstein, Ryan T. Merrell, Faith G. Davis, Rose Lai, Sanjay SheteChristopher I. Amos, Beatrice S. Melin, Melissa L. Bondy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a neurotropic α-herpesvirus that causes chickenpox and establishes life-long latency in the cranial nerve and dorsal root ganglia of the host. To date, VZV is the only virus consistently reported to have an inverse association with glioma. The Glioma International Case-Control Study (GICC) is a large, multisite consortium with data on 4533 cases and 4171 controls collected across five countries. Here, we utilized the GICC data to confirm the previously reported associations between history of chickenpox and glioma risk in one of the largest studies to date on this topic. Using two-stage random-effects restricted maximum likelihood modeling, we found that a positive history of chickenpox was associated with a 21% lower glioma risk, adjusting for age and sex (95% confidence intervals (CI): 0.65–0.96). Furthermore, the protective effect of chickenpox was stronger for high-grade gliomas. Our study provides additional evidence that the observed protective effect of chickenpox against glioma is unlikely to be coincidental. Future studies, including meta-analyses of the literature and investigations of the potential biological mechanism, are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1352-1358
Number of pages7
JournalCancer medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Brain tumor
  • chickenpox
  • glioma
  • shingles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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