Endogenous retroviruses as potential hazards for vaccines

Biologicals. 2010 May;38(3):371-6. doi: 10.1016/j.biologicals.2010.03.003. Epub 2010 Apr 8.


Retroviruses are classified as exogenous or endogenous according to their mode of transmission. Generally, endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are not pathogenic in their original hosts; however, some ERVs induce diseases. In humans, a novel gammaretrovirus was discovered in patients with prostate cancer or chronic fatigue syndrome. This virus was closely related to xenotropic murine leukemia virus (X-MLV) and designated as xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV). The origin and transmission route of XMRV are still unknown at present; however, XMRV may be derived from ERVs of rodents because X-MLVs are ERVs of inbred and wild mice. Many live attenuated vaccines for animals are manufactured by using cell lines from animals, which are known to produce infectious ERVs; however, the risks of infection by ERVs from xenospecies through vaccination have been ignored. This brief review gives an overview of ERVs in cats, the potential risks of ERV infection by vaccination, the biological characteristics of RD-114 virus (a feline ERV), which possibly contaminates vaccines for companion animals, and the methods for detection of infectious RD-114 virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats / virology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Contamination
  • Endogenous Retroviruses / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Retroviridae / genetics*
  • Retroviridae / immunology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Vaccination / veterinary
  • Viral Vaccines / immunology
  • Viral Vaccines / standards*


  • Viral Vaccines