Seroepidemiology of the human polyomaviruses

J Gen Virol. 2003 Jun;84(Pt 6):1499-1504. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.18842-0.


To assess the stability of polyomavirus antibodies in serial samples over time and the incidence and age-specific prevalence of polyomavirus infections, we established enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) using purified yeast-expressed virus-like particles (VLPs) containing the VP1 major capsid proteins of JC virus (JCV) and the AS and SB strains of BK virus (BKV). A random subsample of 150 Finnish women who had serum samples taken during the first trimester of pregnancy and had a second pregnancy during a 5 year follow-up period was selected, grouped by age of first pregnancy. The polyomavirus antibody levels were similar in samples taken during the first and second pregnancies (correlation coefficient 0.93 for BKV SB and 0.94 for JCV). Analysis of serum samples from 290 Swedish children aged 1-13 years, grouped by age in 2 year intervals, demonstrated that BKV seropositivity increased rapidly with increasing age of the children, reaching 98 % seroprevalence at 7-9 years of age, followed by a minor decrease. JCV seroprevalence increased only slowly with increasing age and reaching 72 % positivity among mothers >25 years of age. The age-specific seroprevalence of the human polyomaviruses measured using this VLP-based EIA was similar to previous serosurveys by other methods. The stability of the antibodies over time indicates that polyomavirus seropositivity is a valid marker of cumulative virus exposure, and polyoma VLP-based EIAs may therefore be useful for epidemiological studies of these viruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • BK Virus / genetics
  • BK Virus / immunology*
  • Capsid Proteins / genetics
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Genes, Viral
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies, Viral / ultrastructure
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • JC Virus / genetics
  • JC Virus / immunology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Polyomavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Polyomavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Polyomavirus Infections / virology
  • Pregnancy
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Transformation, Genetic
  • Tumor Virus Infections / epidemiology
  • Tumor Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / virology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Capsid Proteins
  • VP1 protein, polyomavirus