UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Is There an Association between Herpetic Infections and Giant Cell Arteritis? A Population-Based Study Lee, Dong-ho; Iovieno, Alfonso; Sheldon, Claire A.


Recent data suggests that herpes zoster (HZ) and herpes simplex virus (HSV) may be one of the underlying immunological triggers for giant cell arteritis (GCA). However, there is limited population-based data to support this. Our goal was to determine if herpetic infections increase the likelihood of GCA in the British Columbia (BC) population. The background prevalence of GCA was compared to the prevalence of GCA in subjects with HZ and HSV using diagnostic billing code data from an online BC database (BC Data ScoutTM). BC residents ≥30 years old at the time of diagnosis from January 2000 to January 2019 were included. The relevant International Classification of Disease codes was used to identify patients with GCA, HZ, and HSV. Comparisons were made using two-sample Z tests. There were 4315 GCA diagnoses, from a total population of 3,026,005 subjects. The prevalence of GCA was 143 per 100,000 people. In terms of herpetic infections, 850 GCA cases were identified in 249,900 subjects with HZ versus 310 diagnoses of GCA in 163,170 subjects with HSV. The prevalence of GCA in subjects with HZ (0.340%) was significantly higher than the prevalence of GCA (0.143%) in the general population (p < 0.00001). The prevalence of GCA in HSV subjects (0.190%) was also significantly higher (p < 0.00001) than the population prevalence but lower than (p < 0.00001) the GCA with HZ prevalence. The likelihood of GCA appears to increase with herpetic infections, more significantly with HZ.

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