J Med Virol 2008 Nov;80(11):2005-11
Department of Public Health, University of Firenze, Italy.
Parvovirus B19 (B19V) can persist in immunocompetent symptomatic and non-symptomatic individuals, as demonstrated by the finding of viral DNA in different tissues, in absence of viremia and of anti-B19V IgM. The spread and the nature of this phenomenon have not been clearly determined. In order to investigate the frequency of persistence and the tissue distribution of the three genotypes of B19V, the viral load of the persistent virus and its expression in the affected tissues, 139 tissue samples and 102 sera from 139 asymptomatic individuals have been analyzed by consensus PCRs and genotype specific PCRs for B19V detection and genotyping. Viral load was measured by real time PCR and viral mRNAs were detected by RT-PCR. Altogether, 51% individuals carried B19V DNA, more frequently in solid tissues (65%) than in bone marrow (20%). Genotype 1 was found in 28% tissue samples, genotype 2 in 68% and genotype 3 in 3% only. Viral load ranged from less then 10 copies to 7 x 10(4) copies per 10(6) cells, with the exception of two samples of myocardium with about 10(6) copies per 10(6) cells. mRNA of capsid proteins was present in two bone marrow samples only. In conclusion, in asymptomatic individuals B19V persistence is more common in solid tissues than in bone marrow, and genotype 2 persists more frequently than genotype 1. The results suggest that the virus persists without replicating, at sub-immunogenic levels.