Distribution of Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus-Related Virus (XMRV) Infection in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Prostate Cancer|
Judy A. Mikovits, Ying Huang, Max A. Pfost, Vincent C. Lombardi, Daniel C. Bertolette, Kathryn S. Hagen and Francis W. Ruscetti
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Whittemore-Peterson Institute for Neuroimmune Diseases. University of Nevada. Reno NV, USA
In 2006, sequences described as xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) were discovered in prostate cancer patients. In October 2009, we published the first direct isolation of infectious XMRV from humans and the detection of infectious XMRV in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. In that study, a combination of classic retroviral methods were used including: DNA polymerase chain reaction and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction for gag and env, full length genomic sequencing, immunoblotting for viral protein expression in activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells, passage of infectious virus in both plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells to indicator cell lines, and detection of antibodies to XMRV in plasma. A combination of these methods has since allowed us to confirm infection by XMRV in 85% of the 101 patients that were originally studied. Since 2009, seven studies, predominantly using DNA polymerase chain reaction of blood products or tumor tissue, have reported failures to detect XMRV infection in patients with either prostate cancer or chronic fatigue syndrome. A review of the current literature on XMRV supports the importance of applying multiple independent techniques in order to determine the presence of this virus. Detection methods based upon the biological and molecular amplification of XMRV, which is usually present at low levels in unstimulated blood cells and plasma, are more sensitive than assays for the virus by DNA polymerase chain reaction of unstimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. When we examined patient blood samples that had originally tested negative by DNA polymerase chain reaction by more sensitive methods, we observed that they were infected with XMRV; thus, the DNA polymerase chain reaction tests provided false negative results. Therefore, we conclude that molecular analyses using DNA from unstimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells or from whole blood are not yet sufficient as stand-alone assays for the identification of XMRV-infected individuals. Complementary methods are reviewed, that if rigorously followed, will likely show a more accurate snapshot of the actual distribution of XMRV infection in humans.