Detection of SV40 in colon cancer: A molecular case-control study from northeast Italy

Cesare Campello, Manola Comar, Nunzia Zanotta, Anna Minicozzi, Luca Rodella, Albino Poli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To explore the involvement of the simian polyomavirus SV40 in human colon cancer, a molecular case-control study was undertaken in patients and in their relatives living in an area where the spread of SV40 has already been documented. From 2006 to 2008, 94 colon cancer patients (age: 37-90 years) and 91 subjects (age: 32-70 years) relatives of each index case were enrolled. A blood sample and a specimen of cancer tissue or biopsy were collected, from each patient or control, respectively. Samples were analyzed twice for Polyomavirus (i.e., SV40, JCV, and BKV) by PCR and by quantitative realtime PCR (RT-qPCR) with reproducible results. No BKV/JCV was detected either in normal or pathological tissues. SV40 was not present in control subjects, either normal tissue or in biopsies from adenomas or polyps. All blood samples were negative. Conversely, six adenocarcinoma specimens were positive for SV40 sequences (overall prevalence 6.4%, P=0.03 in comparison with controls). Nevertheless, the SV40-associated colon cancer risk proved statistically not significant (OR=3.91; P=0.115) when adjusted for age. Quantitation of SV40 DNA performed by RT-qPCR showed a low viral load ranging from 6.2×101 to 9×103 copies per reaction. This molecular case-control survey showed, for the first time in fresh samples and by RT-qPCR, that SV40 can be detected in colon cancer tissue. However, the finding was not statistically significant when compared with a well-structured community control group. Thus, the role of SV40 and other polyomavirus in colon cancer genesis deserves further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1197-1200
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Case-control study
  • Colon cancer
  • Human polyomavirus
  • SV40

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Medicine(all)


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