Absence of detectable measles virus genome sequence in inflammatory bowel disease tissue and peripheral blood lymphocytes

Division of Virology, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, South Mimms, Potters Bar, Herts, England.
Journal of Medical Virology (Impact Factor: 2.35). 08/1998; 55(3):243-9. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9071(199807)55:33.0.CO;2-H
Source: PubMed


A highly sensitive measles-specific RT-PCR-nested PCR system was established, which consistently amplified measles virus genome sequence from control samples containing as little as 5.5 x 10(-3) pfu per reaction. This method failed to detect the presence of measles virus in 93 colonoscopic biopsies and 31 peripheral blood lymphocyte preparations, examined and obtained from patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and noninflammatory controls. All patients had detectable levels of serum neutralization antibody against measles virus. Each biopsy was estimated to have about one million cells, based on the amplification of the beta actin gene. The assay was calibrated by use of a known number of lymphocytes. The method applied was able to amplify measles virus RNA from a nucleic acid mixture equivalent to 18 cells derived from subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) brain material. The level of measles RNA present, if any, in the biopsies is therefore at least 50,000-fold less than in SSPE.

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    • "In addition to these epidemiological studies, efforts have been made to detect the presence of persistent measles virus in tissue or serum samples from IBD patients using PCR and immunohistochemical techniques. Results of those immunohistochemical studies have been discordant and contradictory [2,14], while the highly sensitive reverse PCR method failed to detect any measles virus genome in the intestinal tissues of CD patients [15-17]. In light of these studies, several investigators have proposed a ‘measles related antigen’ in the human intestine which shares identical epitopes with the measles virus and induces immune reactivity through mechanisms of molecular mimicry [18-20]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Preventive immunization has provided one of the major advances in population health during the past century. However, a surprising cultural phenomenon is the emergence of concerns about immunization safety, in part due to prominently controversial biomedical studies. One ongoing theoretical safety concern is the possibility of human molecular mimicry by measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) antigens. The study of Polymeros et al. in this BMC Medicine presents a systematic evaluation and refutation of this safety concern. This provides significant new scientific evidence in support of the safety of pediatric vaccines, which will inform the ongoing policy and cultural understanding of this important public health measure. Please see related research article:
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    • "Additional studies, using a technique that detected measles virus genome (i.e. polymerase chain reaction), did not detect measles virus in the intestines of patients with IBD [9] [10] [11] [12]. "
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