Presence and Expression of JCV Early Gene Large T Antigen in the Brains of Immunocompromised and Immunocompetent Individuals

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Abstract

JC virus (JCV) is a polyomavirus that asymptomatically infects up to 80% of the worldwide human population and establishes latency in the kidney. In the case of host immunodeficiency, it can cause progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), which is a fatal demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. In an attempt to understand better PML pathogenesis and JCV infection, the presence of the JCV genome and expression of the early viral protein in the brain of deceased individuals, with and without HIV infection, was investigated. Sixty autopsy samples of brain tissues were collected from 15 HIV-positive PML patients, 15 HIVpositive patients with other neurological diseases, 15 HIV-positive patients without neurological disorders, and 15 HIV-negative individuals who died from diseases unrelated to the central nervous system. By means of specific Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction, the JCV genome was detected in 14 of 15 PML brains, three of 15 HIVpositive brains (with and without neurological diseases), and 1 of 15 HIV-negative brains. JCV genotyping was also performed. Expression of the early JCV protein T Antigen was verified by a specific immunohistochemistry assay, and it was found in the brain tissues from 12 PML cases and one case with other neurological disease. The data obtained demonstrate that infection of the brain with JCV can also be observed in the brains of HIV-negative individuals, without neurological disorders. However, viral protein expression was limited to PML brains and to one brain from a patient with other neurological disease, suggesting that JCV can also be present in the brains of patients without PML.

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