Characteristics of noncultivable adenoviruses associated with diarrhea in infants: A new subgroup of human adenoviruses

G. W. Gary, J. C. Hierholzer, R. E. Black

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60 Scopus citations


Virus particles morphologically resembling adenovirus were found in fecal specimens from infants and were examined for cultivability with standard cell culture techniques and for characteristics of human adenoviruses. Specimens from 13 of 15 infants could not be cultivated in cell cultures. The two adenoviruses that were cultivated, types 1 and 31, reacted in the expected manner in all tests. Counterimmunoelectrophoresis with group-specific antihexon serum confirmed that the observed particles in the 15 specimens were human adenoviruses. The buoyant density in sucrose of five of the noncultivable adenoviruses in original stool suspensions averaged 1.335 g/cm3 and that of the two cultivable ones averaged 1.332 g/cm3; both groups had typical adenovirus morphology by electron microscopy. Treatment of the specimens and of a variety of tissue culture cells with proteolytic and other enzymes did not improve cultivability. Examination of partially purified virus by immunoelectron microscopy did not reveal evidence of immunoglobulin A, G, or M coating on the particles, an indication that coproantibody inhibition was not the cause of noncultivability. Fluorescent-antibody studies with an antihexon conjugate and counterimmunoelectrophoresis studies of serially passaged noncultivable viruses indicated that the viruses are infecting cells but are not undergoing effective replication. Antisera to three of the noncultivable viruses demonstrated homologous reactions in counterimmunoelectrophoresis with the respective immunizing antigens but showed only low levels of hemagglutination-inhibiting and neutralizing activity to a few of the known human adenoviruses. We concluded that the noncultivable viruses in these infant diarrhea cases were indeed human adenoviruses, were not defective particles, were not bound to coproantibody, were infectious but incapable of effective replication in conventional cell cultures, were serologically related to types 11, 17, 32, and 33, and should be considered a new, distinct subgroup.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-103
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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