Asymptomatic primary merkel cell polyomavirus infection among adults

Yanis L. Tolstov, Alycia Knauer, Jian Guo Chen, Thomas W. Kensler, Lawrence A. Kingsley, Patrick S. Moore, Yuan Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) is a recently discovered virus that causes 80% of Merkel cell carcinomas. We examined data for 564 gay/bisexual male participants >18 years of age in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, and found that 447 (79.3%) were MCV-antibody positive at initial enrollment. Of the 117 MCV-seronegative men, 31 subsequently seroconverted over a 4-year follow-up period, corresponding to a 6.6% annual conversion rate. MCV immunoglobulin G levels remained detectable up to 25 years after exposure. No signs, symptoms, or routine diagnostic test results were associated with MCV infection, and no correlation between HIV infection or AIDS progression and MCV infection was noted. An initial correlation between chronic hepatitis B virus infection and MCV prevalence could not be confirmed among MCV seroconverters or in studies of a second hepatitis B virus-hyperendemic cohort from Qidong, China. In adults, MCV is typically an asymptomatic, common, and commensal viral infection that initiates rare cancers after virus (rather than host cell) mutations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1371-1380
Number of pages10
JournalEmerging infectious diseases
Volume17
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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