Background: Few studies have looked for the polyoma viruses JC or BK virus in the central nervous system (CNS) of patients without neurological symptoms or with neurological symptoms other than progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). PCR-microplate hybridization method was employed for the detection of BKV-DNA or JCV-DNA in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimens from patients with suspected meningitis or encephalitis.
Materials and methods: A total of 181 CSF specimens from 151 patients with suspected meningitis or encephalitis was examined for BKV or JCV using PCR-microplate hybridization method. None of the patients had (clinically diagnosed) PML. A control group consisting of 20 CSF specimens from normal subject was also included.
Results: BKV DNA was found in five out of 131 (3.8%) and JCV DNA in two out of 131 (1.5%) of the patients with suspected meningitis or encephalitis by PCR ELISA. BKV or JCV DNA was not detected in CSF samples of any of 19 HIV positive patients. BKV and JCV DNAs were detected respectively in two CSF samples in which Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) PCR was also positive. Another patient who was positive for JCV PCR died with a diagnosis of cerebral lymphoma. Among the BK virus infected patients there was a patient with a previous history of hemolytic uremia and acute renal failure. Neither BKV nor JCV DNA was found in any of the 20 CSF samples from normal patients undergoing lumbar puncture for myelography as a part of an investigation of lower back pain.
Conclusion: These results suggest that BK virus may be associated with neurological diseases either in immunocompetent or immunocompromised patients. Detection of BKV and JCV DNA in the CSF of the patients suspected to have either meningitis or encephalitis suggests that these viruses may have an etiological role. Thus, diagnostic tests for BK and JC viruses should be included in the investigative program for meningitis or encephalitis patients.