Detecting JC virus

Lanzillo R, Liuzzi R, Vallefuoco L, Moccia M, Amato L, Vacca G, Vacchiano V, Portella G, Brescia Morra V. JC virus antibody index in natalizumab-treated patients: correlations with John Cunningham virus DNA and C-reactive protein level. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2014;10:807-14. 

Natalizumab-treated patients have a higher risk of developing progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Exposure to John Cunningham virus (JCV) is a prerequisite for PML (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy). To assess JCV exposure in multiple sclerosis patients, we performed a serological examination, obtained the antibody index, performed real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect JCV DNA in plasma and urine, and investigated the role of ultrasensitive C-reactive protein (usCRP) as a possible biological marker of JCV reactivation. We retrospectively analyzed consecutive natalizumab-treated multiple sclerosis patients who underwent a JCV antibody test through a two-step enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (STRATIFY test) to the measure of serum usCRP levels, and to perform blood and urine JCV PCR. The studied cohort included 97 relapsing-remitting patients (60 women). Fifty-two patients (53.6%) tested positive for anti-JCV antibodies. PCR showed JCV DNA in the urine of 30 out of 83 (36.1%) patients and 28 out of 44 seropositive patients (63.6%), with a 6.7% false-negative rate for the STRATIFY test. Normalized optical density values were higher in urinary JCV DNA-positive patients (P<0.0001). Interestingly, the level of usCRP was higher in urinary JCV DNA-positive patients and correlated to the number of DNA copies in urine (P=0.028). As expected, patients’ age correlated with JCV seropositivity and with JC viruria (P=0.02 and P=0.001, respectively). JC viruria was significantly correlated with a high JCV antibody index and high serum usCRP levels. We suggest that PCR and usCRP might be useful as markers of JCV reactivation, and that patients should be monitored between STRATIFY assessments.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is an annular (ring-shaped), pentameric protein found in the blood plasma, the levels of which rise in response to inflammation (i.e., C-reactive protein is an acute-phase protein). Its physiological role is to bind tophosphocholine expressed on the surface of dead or dying cells (and some types of bacteria) in order to activate the complement system

CRP is synthesized by the liver in response to factors released by macrophages and fat cells. C-reactive protein is a pattern recognition receptor (PRR). These are proteins expressed by cells of the innate immune system to identify pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), which are associated with microbial pathogens or cellular stress, as well as damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), which are associated with cell components released during cell damage due to infection. In this study they assayed the presence of c reactive protein with ultra sensitive measurement to link this to infection with JC virus. The used polymerase chain reaction to detect the virus. PCR is a technique where you amplify DNA from low levels to high levels so you can see if it is present.

If you have high levels of  Viral DNA you are much more likely to be  Antibody positive and this occurs in about 50% of people and is more robust that looking for viral DNA however there are some false negatives.

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  • MouseDoctor, you never stop to surprise me. I have used CRP for 20 years and never thought of it as a PRR ( I don't know why, it makes perfect sense). Anyway… CRP goes up in any viral infection and if we are to believe virologists we have several viral infections going at any one time ( some say 12, on average). So… sorry, dear authors of this paper, but it is hard to see the clinical value of CRP in JCV monitoring.

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