JCV-DNA and BKV-DNA in the CNS tissue and CSF of AIDS patients and normal subjects. Study of 41 cases and review of the literature

Luca Vago, Paola Cinque, Elena Sala, Manuela Nebuloni, Rita Caldarelli, Sara Racca, Pasquale Ferrante, GianRiccardo Trabattoni, Giulio Costanzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We studied the distribution and localization of the human papovaviruses JCV and BKV in the central nervous system (CNS) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of HIV-positive patients with and without progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) as compared with HIV-seronegative patients. The presence of JCV-DNA and BKV-DNA was evaluated by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and in situ hybridization (ISH) on CNS autopsy tissues of AIDS patients with (group A, n = 13) and without (group B, n = 16) PML and of HIV- negative patients (group C, n = 12). PCR for JCV-DNA and BKV-DNA was also performed on CSF samples collected 7-420 days before death in all the 29 AIDS patients. Tissue PCR for JCV-DNA was positive in all the cases in group A, in 44% of the patients in group B, and in 33% of the patients in group C. ISH was positive in all the cases with PML and in three AIDS cases without PML (12%), but negative in all the HIV-negative cases. BKV-DNA was detected in two cases from group A and in one case from group B. CSF was PCR-positive for JCV-DNA in 8 of 13 (62%) AIDS patients with PML, but in none of the HIV patients without PML, irrespective of the presence of JCV-DNA in CNS tissues. No CSF sample was positive for BKV-DNA. Our data demonstrates that JCV-DNA and, rarely, BKV-DNA can be detected in the CNS of immunocompromised patients with and without PML and also in the CNS of HIV-negative subjects. However, only HIV-positive patients with clinically evident PML and JCV-DNA in the brain have PCR-detectable JCV-DNA in their CSF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes and Human Retrovirology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • BK virus
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • HIV
  • In situ hybridization
  • JC virus
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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