Comprehensive investigation of the presence of JC virus in AIDS patients with and without progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy

Pasquale Ferrante, Rita Caldarelli-Stefano, Elisabetta Omodeo-Zorini, Anna Elisabetta Cagni, Laura Cocchi, Fredy Suter, Renato Maserati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a viral-induced demyelinating disease, is becoming relatively common, while many diagnostic and pathogenetic aspects remain to be clarified. A study was therefore undertaken in 64 AIDS patients suffering from various neurological disorders, including PML (12 subjects), with the specific objective of searching for JC virus (JCV) DNA by nested PCR (n-PCR) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), and urine collected from all patients. CSF examination, CD4 and CD8 counts, neurological examinations, and neuroradiological investigations were undertaken. JCV DNA was detected in 92% of CSF specimens in 75% of the PBMCs and urine samples from the PML patients, whereas among the non-PML patients JCV DNA was not detected in any CSF samples, but was found in 10% of PBMCs and in 39% of the urine specimens. BKV and JCV DNA viruria was observed simultaneously in 6% of the AIDS patients without PML. The routine CSF tests including IgG oligoclonal bands, the Link, and Tourtellotte IgG indexes, did not show a typical pattern in PML cases. The data obtained clearly indicate that the detection of JCV DNA in CSF constitutes an efficient marker for PML diagnosis. The simultaneous presence of JCV DNA in the CSF, PBMCs, and urine samples from the PML patients, who did not differ from controls with regard to their immunosuppressive status, suggests that JCV could be carried into the central nervous system (CNS) by infected PBMCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1997


  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Human polyomavirus
  • Nested PCR
  • PML

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


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