Study 1: Introduce and validate a method for measuring EBV p18-VCA antibodies in whole blood spots to provide a minimally invasive marker of cell-mediated immune function. Study 2: Apply this method to a large community-based study of psychopathology in children and adolescents.
The EBV antibody method was evaluated through analysis of precision, reliability, stability, and comparisons with plasma and indirect immunofluorescence methods. The effects of life events on p18-VCA antibody level were considered in a subsample of 9, 11, and 13 year-old children participating in the Great Smoky Mountains Study in North Carolina. The subsample was stratified by age, sex, and degree of overall life strain.
Dried blood spots provided a convenient, sensitive, precise, and reliable method for measuring EBV p18-VCA antibody titer. Life events were positively associated with p18-VCA antibodies in girls but not in boys.
The validity of the blood spot EBV p18-VCA antibody assay, as well as the ease of sample collection, storage, and transportation, may provide an opportunity for psychoneuroimmunology to explore a wider range of stress models in larger, community-based studies.