BACKGROUND: Central nervous system (CNS) infections by human polyomaviruses (HPyVs), with the exception of JC (JCPyV), have been poorly studied.
METHODS: In total, 234 cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples were collected from patients affected with neurological disorders. DNA was isolated and subjected to quantitative real-time PCR (Q-PCR) for the detection of six HPyVs: JCPyV, BKPyV, Merkel cell PyV (MCPyV), HPyV6, HPyV7, and HPyV9. Where possible, the molecular characterization of the viral strains was carried out by nested PCR and automated sequencing.
RESULTS: JCPyV was detected in 3/234 (1.3%), BKPyV in 15/234 (6.4%), MCPyV in 22/234 (9.4%), and HPyV6 in 1/234 (0.4%) CSF samples. JCPyV was detected at the highest (p < 0.05) mean load (3.7 × 107 copies/mL), followed by BKPyV (1.9 × 106 copies/mL), MCPyV (1.9 × 105 copies/mL), and HPyV6 (3.3 × 104 copies/mL). The noncoding control regions (NCCRs) of the sequenced viral strains were rearranged.
CONCLUSIONS: HPyVs other than JCPyV were found in the CSF of patients affected with different neurological diseases, probably as bystanders, rather than etiological agents of the disease. However, the fact that they can be latent in the CNS should be considered, especially in immunosuppressed patients.