For citation purposes: Pundole X, Amirian ES, Scheurer ME. Role of varicella zoster virus in glioma risk: Current knowledge and future directions. OA Epidemiology 2014 Mar 22;2(1):6.

Critical review


Role of varicella zoster virus in glioma risk: Current knowledge and future directions.

X Pundole, E Amirian, M Scheurer

Authors affiliations

(1) Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX USA

(2) Department of Pediatrics & Dan L Duncan Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX USA

* Corresponding author Email:



The role of infections in brain tumorogenesis has long been in question. Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a neurotropic alpha-herpesvirus that causes chicken pox among initial infection. It can then establish latency in the host’s dorsal root ganglia and can reactivate later in life causing shingles as well as CNS-related complications. A few studies have been conducted to elucidate the role of VZV infection in glioma susceptibility, but several gaps in knowledge remain. This review presents a brief overview of current epidemiologic knowledge on the relationship between VZV and adult-onset brain tumours and highlights important future directions for continued research on this topic.


The literature is slowly approaching a consensus on the inverse association between VZV infection and immunity and glioma risk. However, several gaps in knowledge remain, and definitive conclusions cannot be drawn about this potentially complex relationship until the possible interactions between VZV immunity and atopy are clarified and the potential effects of the VZV vaccine are assessed.

Licensee OA Publishing London 2014. Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY)