Background: Few studies have measured the levels of antibodies specific for measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella zoster/chickenpox viruses in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients undergoing treatment with immunomodulators/biologics.
Methods: We prospectively recruited 139 IBD outpatients. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were used as the serological tests for measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella zoster. We defined anti-rubella IgG < 10 IU/mL, anti-measles IgG < 16 IU/mL, and anti-mumps/varicella zoster IgG <4 IU/mL as seronegative for viruses. We also asked participants about past immunizations against or infections with measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella zoster viruses.
Results: The proportion of patients with seronegative levels of antibodies specific for varicella zoster, rubella, measles, and mumps viruses was 5%, 30%, 34%, and 37%, respectively. Approximately 40% of the IBD patients did not remember whether they had previously been infected with any of the viruses, and almost one-third of the patients could not remember whether they had previously been vaccinated. Almost 30% of the patients with a past history of rubella or measles did not have seropositive antibody levels. A total of 54% of the patients being treated with immunosuppressant displayed seronegative levels of antibodies specific for at least one of the viruses.
Conclusions: Many IBD patients were unaware of whether they had previously been vaccinated against or infected with the viruses causing varicella zoster, rubella, measles, or mumps. Therefore, measuring the current levels of antibodies specific for such viruses is useful for determining whether patients have seropositive antibody levels before immunomodulators/biologics are used for therapy.