Merkel cell polyomavirus infection and Merkel cell carcinoma

Curr Opin Virol. 2016 Oct;20:20-27. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2016.07.011. Epub 2016 Aug 10.


Merkel cell polyomavirus is the only polyomavirus discovered to date that is associated with a human cancer. MCPyV infection is highly prevalent in the general population. Nearly all healthy adults asymptomatically shed MCPyV from their skin. However, in elderly and immunosuppressed individuals, the infection can lead to a lethal form of skin cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma. In the last few years, new findings have established links between MCPyV infection, host immune response, and Merkel cell carcinoma development. This review discusses these recent discoveries on how MCPyV interacts with host cells to achieve persistent infection and, in the immunocompromised population, contributes to MCC development.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogenesis*
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / physiopathology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Merkel cell polyomavirus / immunology
  • Merkel cell polyomavirus / pathogenicity*
  • Polyomavirus Infections / complications*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / complications*