Secondary lymphoid tissue as an important site for WU polyomavirus infection in immunocompetent children

Manola Comar, Nunzia Zanotta, Tatiana Rossi, Giorgio Pelos, Pierlanfranco D'Agaro

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The polyomaviruses KI and WU (KIPyV and WUPyV) have been identified in respiratory specimens from children with acute respiratory infections, which suggests the respiratory tract as a possible site of infection. However, the persistence of infection in the lymphoid system is unknown. Fresh samples (n=211) of tonsils, adenoids, and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 83 immunocompetent children (mean age 4.8 years) were tested for amplification of the KIPyV VP1 and WUPyV VP2 genes. The known BK and JC polyomaviruses and the lymphotropic human herpesvirus (HHV)-6 were also investigated by quantitative real-time PCR and direct sequencing. In addition, 98 nasopharyngeal swabs collected from children (mean age 6.2 years) affected by seasonal influenza-like illness were tested. Of the lymphoid tissues, 34.9% were positive for WUPyV, 4.8% for BK virus, and 33.8% for HHV-6. KIPyV and JC virus were not detected in these specimens. None of the polyomaviruses were detected in PBMCs. Among the nasopharyngeal samples, the prevalence of WUPyV was 27.5%, although 70% of the positive samples were co-infected with at least one of the following respiratory viruses: influenza virus, adenovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus. Phylogenetic analysis revealed high sequence homology (99%) between lymphoid- and nasopharynx-derived WUPyV strains. These results suggest that the tonsils and adenoids of immunocompetent children are a reservoir for WUPyV infection; probably due to the respiratory route of transmission. In addition, the prevalence of WUPyV was high among the children, and the virus was identified more frequently in older children than during the first years of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1446-1450
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • Adenoids
  • Nasopharyngeal tract
  • Tonsils

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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