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Version 2. F1000Res. 2018 Mar 9 [revised 2018 May 2];7:302. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.13626.2. eCollection 2018.

Virus-like particles and enterovirus antigen found in the brainstem neurons of Parkinson's disease.

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Visiting Research Fellow, Virus Reference Dept., National Infection Service, Public Health England, London, NW9 5EQ, UK.
Molecular Pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC, 20306, USA.
Acacia Consulting Sàrl, Luxembourg, L-1244, Luxembourg.
Virus Reference Department, National Infection Service, Public Health England, London, NW9 5EQ, UK.


Background: In a previous study on encephalitis lethargica, we identified a virus related to enterovirus in autopsy brain material. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), immunohistochemistry (IHC) and molecular analysis were employed.  Our present objective was to investigate, using a similar approach, as to whether virus-like particles (VLP) and enterovirus antigen are present in Parkinson's disease (PD) brainstem neurons. Methods: Fixed tissue from autopsy specimens of late onset PD and control brainstem tissue were received for study. The brain tissue was processed for TEM and IHC according to previous published methods. Results:  We observed VLP in the brainstem neurons of all the cases of PD that were examined.  In the neurons' cytoplasm there were many virus factories consisting of VLP and endoplasmic reticulum membranes. In some neurons, the virus factories contained incomplete VLP. Complete VLP in some neurons' virus factories had an average diameter of 31 nm, larger than control brain ribosomes. In the nuclei, there were VLP with an average diameter of 40 nm. In cases of human poliomyelitis, there were cytoplasmic virus factories and intranuclear virus particles similar to those observed in PD. On preparing PD brain sections for IHC there was positive staining using anti-poliovirus antibody and anti-coxsackie antibody. This result was statistically significant. Conclusions: We present evidence for an enterovirus infection in PD.  For future studies, virus isolation and molecular analysis are suggested.


Parkinson’s disease; Virus-like particles; electron microscopy; immunohistochemistry

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