Purpose: Research data have recently emphasized an intriguing association of JC polyoma virus with colon carcinogenesis. Tumorigenicity of JC virus is attributed to the T-antigen of its Mad-1 variant. Controversy arose when another research group did not confirm this association. The purpose of this study was to detect JC virus in a series of colon neoplasms from Greek patients.
Methods: A nested polymerase chain reaction assay was used to detect JC virus in 80 cancerous, 25 adenomatous specimens of large bowel, and 20 colonoscopic biopsy samples from normal patients without colorectal neoplasia. Quantitation of JC virus DNA was performed by real-time polymerase chain reaction.
Results: JC polyoma virus nucleotide sequence was detected in 61 percent of colon adenocarcinomas and in 60 percent of adenomas, at a viral load of 9 x 10(3) to 20 x 10(3) copies/microg DNA. Adjacent normal mucosa in 35 positive colon adenocarcinoma specimens, and normal mucosa from six patients of the control group, had low viral loads (50-450 copies/microg DNA).
Conclusions: JC polyoma virus genome is present in colon neoplasms. JC virus detection in adenomas at comparable viral loads to malignant tumors suggests its implication at early steps of colonic carcinogenesis. Taking into consideration other published data, infection of colonic epithelium with JC virus might be a prime candidate for a role in chromosomal and genomic instability.