Specific detection of trichodysplasia spinulosa–associated polyomavirus DNA in skin and renal allograft tissues in a patient with trichodysplasia spinulosa

Arch Dermatol. 2012 Jun;148(6):726-33. doi: 10.1001/archdermatol.2011.3298.


Background: Trichodysplasia spinulosa (TS) is a rare, disfiguring skin condition that affects immunosuppressed patients, universally involving the central face. New data point to the recently discovered TS-associated polyomavirus (TSPyV) as the causative agent.

Observations: We report a case of TS in a 48-year-old African American man after renal transplant; via polymerase chain reaction and sequencing, confirm the detection of TSPyV in lesional skin; and report the novel detection of TSPyV DNA in renal allograft tissue. Results of polymerase chain reaction analysis were negative for Merkel cell polyomavirus in lesional skin. Fifteen months later, urine cytologic findings showed morphologic evidence of a urinary tract polyomavirus infection. Results of SV40 immunohistochemical analysis were negative in lesional skin, renal allograft, and urine specimens.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first reported case in which TSPyV DNA has been detected in extracutaneous tissues and the third with combined ultrastructural and molecular confirmation of the presence of TSPyV in lesional skin. Lack of detection of other pathogenic human polyomaviruses in this patient's skin supports the specific role of this polyomavirus in the genesis of TS. Further basic science studies are needed to determine the exact pathomechanisms of this polyomavirus and to explore possible tumorigenic roles in other skin diseases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • DNA, Viral / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Polyomavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Polyomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Polyomavirus Infections / virology*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases / pathology
  • Skin Diseases / virology*


  • DNA, Viral