The role of polyomaviruses in human disease

Virology. 2009 Feb 20;384(2):266-73. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2008.09.027. Epub 2008 Nov 7.


The human polyomaviruses, BK virus and JC virus, have long been associated with serious diseases including polyomavirus nephropathy and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Both viruses establish ubiquitous, persistent infections in healthy individuals. Reactivation can occur when the immune system is impaired, leading to disease progression. Recently, the human polyomavirus family has expanded with the identification of three new viruses (KI, WU and Merkel cell polyomavirus), all of which may prove to be involved in human disease. This review describes the general aspects of human polyomavirus infections and pathogenicity. Current topics of investigation and future directions in the field are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • BK Virus / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • JC Virus / pathogenicity
  • Kidney Diseases / virology*
  • Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal / virology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / virology
  • Neoplasms / virology
  • Polyomavirus / classification
  • Polyomavirus / pathogenicity*
  • Polyomavirus Infections / transmission
  • Polyomavirus Infections / virology*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / virology