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Can J Microbiol. 2001 Aug;47(8):691-7.

Do mycoplasmas cause human cancer?

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


A linkage between mycoplasmas and malignancy was mainly proposed in the 1960s when human-associated mycoplasmas were becoming of interest given the novel characterization of the human respiratory pathogen Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Associations with leukemia and other malignancies, however, were largely ascribed to tissue-culture contamination, which is now recognized as a significant potential problem in molecular biology circles. A few epidemiological studies, however, continue to raise concern over such a linkage. As well, in vitro data have demonstrated the potential for some mycoplasmas to induce karyotypic changes and malignant transformation during chronic tissue-culture infestation. As cellular and molecular mechanisms for such transformation become studied, a resurgence of interest in this area is inevitable. A role for mycoplasmas in malignancy of any sort is conjectural, but there remains a need to continue with focussed epidemiological and laboratory investigations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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