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Prevalence of XMRV in blood donors, HTLV and HIV cohorts


PCR-based testing has been widely utilized to assess the prevalence of Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus-related Virus (XMRV) in prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome patients. An alternative approach, screening for antibodies elicited by XMRV infection, represents a more desirable option for large-scale epidemiologic studies. In this study, blood donor and retrovirus-infected populations were screened for serologic evidence of XMRV infection.


Plasma from 1000 US blood donors, 100 HIV-1 infected Cameroonians, 486 HTLV-I infected Japanese, and 156 Japanese HTLV-uninfected controls were screened for antibodies to XMRV gp70 and p15E using recombinant-based chemiluminescence immunoassays (CMIAs). CMIA reactive samples were further evaluated by Western Blot (WB) and real-time RT-PCR for XMRV pol and env sequences.


Of US donors, 0.8% (8/1000) were CMIA reactive: 1 p15E and 3 of 7 gp70 reactive samples WB confirmed yielding a 0.4% seroreactive rate. No HIV-1 infected specimens were reactive. Of the Japanese samples, 1/156 uninfected (0.6%) and 20/486 HTLV-infected samples (4.1%) had detectable p15E antibodies by CMIA and WB. Eight additional HTLV-infected samples were gp70 reactive; 4 of 486 (0.8%) were gp70 reactive in WB. No XMRV pol or env sequences were detected in the seroreactives.


XMRV seroprevalence ranged from 0 - 0.6% in US blood donors, HIV-1 infected and HTLV uninfected subjects. Notably, 4.1% of Japanese HTLV-I infected individuals were p15E reactive. Inspection of sequence homology between HTLV and XMRV revealed a high level of conservation within the immunodominant region of HTLV gp21 suggesting increased seroreactivity is due to cross-reactive antibodies.

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Correspondence to Xiaoxing Qiu.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Qiu, X., Swanson, P., Tang, N. et al. Prevalence of XMRV in blood donors, HTLV and HIV cohorts. Retrovirology 8 (Suppl 1), A222 (2011).

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