Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus in monozygotic twins discordant for chronic fatigue syndrome

Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98105, USA.
Diagnostic microbiology and infectious disease (Impact Factor: 2.46). 09/2011; 71(1):66-71. DOI: 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2011.06.003
Source: PubMed


A recent report suggested an association between xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). If confirmed, this would suggest that antiretroviral therapy might benefit patients suffering from CFS. We validated a set of assays for XMRV and evaluated the prevalence of XMRV in a cohort of monozygotic twins discordant for CFS. Stored peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) samples were tested with 3 separate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays (one of which was nested) for XMRV DNA, and serum/plasma was tested for XMRV RNA by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR. None of the PBMC samples from the twins with CFS or their unaffected co-twins was positive for XMRV, by any of the assays. One plasma sample, from an unaffected co-twin, was reproducibly positive by RT-PCR. However, serum from the same day was negative, as was a follow-up plasma sample obtained 2 days after the positive specimen. These data do not support an association of XMRV with CFS.

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    ABSTRACT: The discovery and de-discovery of the xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) has been a tumultuous roller-coaster ride for scientists and patients. The initial associations of XMRV with chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer, while providing much hope and optimism, have now been discredited and/or retracted following overwhelming evidence that (1) numerous patient cohorts from around the world are XMRV-negative, (2) the initial reports of XMRV-positive patients were due to contamination with mouse DNA, XMRV plasmid DNA, or virus from the 22Rv1 cell line and (3) XMRV is a laboratory-derived virus generated in the mid 1990s through recombination during passage of a prostate tumor xenograft in immuno-compromised mice. While these developments are disappointing to scientists and patients, they provide a valuable road map of potential pitfalls to the would-be microbe hunters.
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