BK virus sequences in specimens from aborted fetuses

Renzo Boldorini, Sara Allegrini, Umberto Miglio, Ilenia Nestasio, Alessia Paganotti, Claudia Veggiani, Guido Monga, Valeria Pietropaolo

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Given the conflicting results of the few published studies, the aim of this retrospective molecular-based study of 10 aborted fetuses that underwent complete autopsy and 10 placentas was carried out to determine whether BK polyomavirus (BKV) can be transmitted transplacentally. The interruption of pregnancy was due to a miscarriage (five cases) or a prenatal diagnosis of severe intrauterine malformations (five cases). Samples from the brain, heart, lung, thymus, liver, and kidney were taken from each fetus, and two samples were obtained from all of the placentas. The presence of BKV was investigated by means of PCR using primers specific for the transcription control region (TCR) and viral capsidic protein 1 (VP1) and DNA extracted from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue. BKV genome was detected in 22 of 60 samples (36.6%) from seven fetuses (70%), regardless of the cause of abortion: VP1 was amplified in 12 samples (54%), TCR in seven (32%), and both in three (14%). VP1 was also detected in one placental sample. BKV sequences were most frequently detected in heart and lung (five cases), but sequence analyses of TCR and VP1 revealed a high degree of genomic variability among the samples taken from different organs and the placenta. These results indicate that BKV can cross the placenta during pregnancy and become latent in fetal organs other than the kidney and brain (previously considered the main targets of BKV latency). This may happen in early pregnancy and does not seem to be associated with an increased risk of abortion. J. Med. Virol. 82:2127-2132, 2010.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2127-2132
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Polyomavirus
  • Transcriptional control region
  • Vertical transmission
  • Viral capsid protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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