Anti-JC Virus Antibody Prevalence in Canadian MS Patients

Can J Neurol Sci. 2014 Nov;41(6):748-52. doi: 10.1017/cjn.2014.32. Epub 2014 Nov 4.


Background: Anti-John Cunningham (JCV) antibodies have been detected in approximately 50% to 60% of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Age, sex, and geographic location have been associated with seroprevalence differences. We describe anti-JCV antibody prevalence in the Canadian cohort of patients enrolled in the JCV Epidemiology in MS study.

Methods: This cross-sectional multicenter study evaluated the effects of demographic and disease characteristics on anti-JCV antibody seroprevalence in MS patients irrespective of disease type and treatment. A single blood sample was collected for analysis of anti-JCV antibodies using a two-step enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Chi-square and logistic regression tests were used to determine significance.

Results: A total of 4198 Canadian MS patients participated in the study; the overall anti-JCV antibody prevalence was 56.3% (95% confidence interval: 54.8% to 57.8%). Seroprevalence was significantly associated with age (increasing from 45% in young to 61% in those >60 years), sex, and region (p<0.0001 for age and sex; p=0.005 for region). No significant differences in anti-JCV antibody prevalence were associated with race, MS disease type and duration, or number and duration of treatments. Immunosuppressant use was associated with a higher seroprevalence rate (63.4%) compared with no immunosuppressant use (55.9%; p=0.040).

Conclusions: Canadian MS patients had an overall anti-JCV antibody seroprevalence that was consistent with previous studies using the two-step ELISA. Significant associations of anti-JCV antibody positivity were found with age, sex, region, and immunosuppressant therapy, whereas seroprevalence was not associated with race, MS type, MS duration, or number or duration of MS treatments.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autoantibodies / blood*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • JC Virus / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / blood*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Autoantibodies