Serological Evidence of an Early Seroconversion to Simian Virus 40 in Healthy Children and Adolescents

Angelo Taronna, Elisa Mazzoni, Alfredo Corallini, Ilaria Bononi, Silvia Pietrobon, Giovanni Guerra, Caterina Palmonari, Caterina Borgna-Pignatti, Manola Comar, Massimo Bovenzi, Ferruccio Casali, Roberto Marci, Giovanni Rezza, Giuseppe Barbanti-Brodano, Mauro Tognon, Fernanda Martini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At present Simian virus 40 (SV40) infection in humans appears to be transmitted independently from early contaminated vaccines. In order to test the spread of SV40 infection in children, an immunologic assay employing specific SV40 synthetic peptides corresponding to its viral protein (VP) antigens was employed to estimate the seroprevalence of this polyomavirus in Italian infants and adolescents. Serum samples from 328 children and adolescents, up to 17 years, were investigated. Serum antibodies against SV40 VPs were detected by indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. The seroprevalence of this polyomavirus was calculated after stratifying the subjects by age. Anti-viral capsid protein 1-2-3 SV40 IgG antibodies were detected in 16% of the study participants. The prevalence of antibodies against SV40 VPs tended to increase with age in children, up to 10 year old (21%). Then, in the cohort of individuals aged 11-17 years, the prevalence decreased (16%). A higher prevalence rate (23%) of SV40 VP antibodies was detected in the cohorts of 1-3 year and 7-10 year old children, than in children and adolescents of the other age groups. This age corresponds to children starting nursery and primary school, respectively, in Italy. IgM antibodies against SV40 VP mimotopes were detected in 6-8 month old children suggesting that SV40 seroconversion can occur early in life. SV40 VP antibodies are present at low prevalence in Italian children (16%), suggesting that SV40 infection, although acquired early in life, probably through different routes, is not widespread. The low SV40 seroprevalence suggests that SV40 is less transmissible than other common polyomaviruses, such as BKV and JCV. Alternatively, our immunologic data could be due to another, as yet undiscovered, human polyomavirus closely related to SV40.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere61182
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 25 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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