Anti-JC virus (JCV) antibody prevalence in the JCV Epidemiology in MS (JEMS) trial

Eur J Neurol. 2014 Feb;21(2):299-304. doi: 10.1111/ene.12304. Epub 2013 Nov 30.


Background and purpose: Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is caused by reactivation of JC virus (JCV) infection due to combined host and viral factors. Anti-JCV antibodies provide a means to assess JCV exposure and stratify PML risk. The reported seroprevalence of anti-JCV antibodies varies from 39% to 91% depending on assay methodology and population studied. A two-step anti-JCV antibody assay (STRATIFY JCV™; Focus Diagnostics, Cypress, CA, USA) detected anti-JCV antibodies in approximately 55% of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. This study describes the prevalence of anti-JCV antibodies in a large, multinational MS population.

Methods: This cross-sectional epidemiology study was designed to enroll a minimum of 2000 patients with an MS diagnosis of any type, irrespective of treatment, from Europe, Canada and Australia. Anti-JCV antibody prevalence was determined by STRATIFY JCV; the effects of demographic and disease characteristics were evaluated.

Results: A total of 7724 patients from 10 countries participated in the study. Overall anti-JCV antibody prevalence was 57.1% (95% confidence interval 56.0%-58.2%). Seroprevalence was significantly associated with increasing age, gender and country of current residence (P < 0.0001). No significant differences in anti-JCV antibody prevalence were associated with MS disease characteristics, including duration and type of MS and number and duration of MS therapies.

Conclusions: Overall seroprevalence of anti-JCV antibodies in MS patients from Europe, Canada and Australia was consistent with previous studies using the STRATIFY JCV assay. Anti-JCV prevalence differed significantly by age, gender and country, but no geographical pattern was evident. Disease and treatment type were not associated with differences in anti-JCV antibody status.

Keywords: JC virus; anti-JCV antibody; enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; epidemiology; multiple sclerosis; prevalence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • JC Virus / immunology*
  • Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal / blood
  • Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal / epidemiology*
  • Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / blood
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic