Background: JC virus (JCV), a polyoma virus, is the etiological agent of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy in immunosuppressed patients. JCV T-Ag has proven oncogenic potential and is expressed in colonic polyps and carcinomas. We proposed that the prevalence of JCV T-Ag DNA is higher in the normal gastrointestinal (GI) mucosa of immunosuppressed patients compared with their immunocompetent counterparts.
Aims: To look for JCV T-Ag DNA in the normal gastrointestinal mucosa of immunosuppressed patients compared with immunocompetent controls.
Methods: Macroscopically normal samples of upper and lower GI mucosa were obtained from 38 immunosuppressed patients. A control group included samples from 19 immunocompetent inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and 29 non-IBD cases. DNA was extracted and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed using primers specific for T-Ag.
Results: JCV T-Ag DNA was found in nine of the immunosuppressed patients (23.7%) and in three of the controls (6.3%; P = 0.02). Transplant recipients had a particularly high prevalence of JCV T-Ag DNA (35.3%). Patients with IBD receiving immunosuppressive drugs had a higher prevalence of JCV T-Ag DNA in comparison with IBD patients who did not receive immunosuppression (22.2% versus 10.5%, respectively), but this difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.574).
Conclusion: JCV T-Ag DNA is more prevalent in the upper and lower GI mucosa of immunosuppressed patients, possibly indicating that the virus resides in these patients. This may account for the higher prevalence of GI carcinomas in immunosuppressed patients.