Detection of human polyomaviruses and papillomaviruses in prostatic tissue reveals the prostate as a habitat for multiple viral infections

Prostate. 2002 Dec 1;53(4):263-76. doi: 10.1002/pros.10157.


Background: To determine whether human polyomavirus (hPy) genomes are present in prostate tissues, we have carried out a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening in two sets of prostate samples, archival and fresh frozen, as well as performing in situ hybridization (ISH). The frozen prostate samples as well as the urine from the same patients were also screened for human papillomavirus (HPV) sequences.

Methods: Highly sensitive nested-PCR assays were used. The detection of subpopulations of JC virus (JCV) -transcriptional control regions (TCRs) was also evaluated by Southern analysis and by direct DNA sequencing. An in situ hybridization technique was also used to detect JCV DNA in prostatic tissue.

Results: The paraffin-embedded archival samples gave variable, unsatisfactory results. Results from the fresh frozen samples, however, were consistent and were frequently positive for JCV and less frequent for BK virus DNA. ISH confirmed the presence of JCV DNA in prostatic glandular epithelium. The TCR region of JCV from prostate tissue and urine from prostate cancer patients showed the presence of both archetypal and rearranged TCRs, including several new sequence variants. HPV DNA was also frequently detected and in some cases also mixed with hPy DNA from frozen tissue and urine.

Conclusion: The use of fresh frozen samples proved to be essential for consistent and reproducible detection of HPV and hPy viral DNAs. The presence of JCV DNA by ISH and the occurrence of a subpopulation of JCV TCR regions suggests that the prostate is a site for virus replication. The prostate is a complex habitat where mixed infections with oncogenic DNA viruses frequently occur and opens the discussion to the potential role of these viruses in the cancer of the prostate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • BK Virus / isolation & purification*
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • JC Virus / isolation & purification*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prostate / virology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / etiology


  • DNA, Viral