The role of parvovirus B19 in the pathogenesis of giant cell arteritis: a preliminary evaluation

Arthritis Rheum. 1999 Jun;42(6):1255-8. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(199906)42:6<1255::AID-ANR23>3.0.CO;2-P.


Objective: To determine whether parvovirus B19 DNA is more likely to be present in the temporal arteries of patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA) than in the temporal arteries of control subjects.

Methods: We prospectively examined temporal artery biopsy (TAB) tissue from 50 consecutive patients presenting for TAB for the presence of B19 DNA using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Clinical and demographic information was obtained from the patients' medical records. A separate PCR analysis of 30 original tissue specimens was conducted at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) using primers directed toward another target sequence in the nonstructural coding area of B19.

Results: The 50 patients had an average age of 70.8 years; 27 (54%) were female. Amplicons for human beta-globulin, but not for cytomegalovirus, were produced for all tissue samples. The PCR results for B19 agreed in 29 of 30 samples tested by our institution and by the CDC (97% agreement; kappa = 0.9). A comparison of the B19 DNA analysis and the results of TAB indicated a statistically significant association between histologic evidence of GCA and the presence of B19 DNA in TAB tissue (chi2 = 10.38, P = 0.0013).

Conclusion: These findings suggest that B19 may play a role in the pathogenesis of GCA.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Female
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / pathology
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / virology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Parvoviridae Infections / pathology
  • Parvoviridae Infections / virology*
  • Parvovirus B19, Human / genetics
  • Parvovirus B19, Human / pathogenicity*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Temporal Arteries / pathology
  • Temporal Arteries / virology


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Viral