Evaluation of Merkel Cell Polyomavirus DNA in Tissue Samples from Italian Patients with Diagnosis of MCC

Carla Prezioso, Raffaella Carletti, Francisco Obregon, Francesca Piacentini, Anna Maria Manicone, Giuseppe Soda, Ugo Moens, Cira Di Gioia, Valeria Pietropaolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Because the incidence of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) has increased significantly during the last 10 years and it is recognized that Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) and ultraviolet (UV) radiation represent two different etiological inputs sharing clinical, histopathological, and prognostic similar features, although with different prognosis, this study investigated the detection of MCPyV in skin and lymph nodes with histological diagnosis of MCC. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue (FFPE) were retrieved from archived specimens and MCPyV non-coding control region (NCCR) and viral capsid protein 1 (VP1) sequences were amplified and sequenced. Results provide an interesting observation concerning the discrepancy between the MCPyV DNA status in primary and metastatic sites: in fact, in all cases in which primary and metastatic lesions were investigated, MCPyV DNA was detected only in the primary lesions. Our data further support the “hit-and-run” theory, also proposed by other authors, and may lead to speculation that in some MCCs the virus is only necessary for the process of tumor initiation and that further mutations may render the tumor independent from the virus. Few point mutations were detected in the NCCR and only silent mutations were observed in the VP1 sequence compared to the MCPyV MCC350 isolate. To unequivocally establish a role of MCPyV in malignancies, additional well-controlled investigations are required, and larger cohorts should be examined.

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • GTTGA insertion
  • Hit-and-run
  • MCC diagnosis
  • Merkel cell polyomavirus
  • Metastatic lesions
  • Primary lesions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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