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J Infect Dis. 1995 Nov;172(5):1198-205.

Multiple glycosphingolipids determine the tissue tropism of parvovirus B19.

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Department of Pathology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA.


Infection with human parvovirus B19, the etiologic agent of fifth disease, is associated with numerous hematologic and nonhematologic complications. Recently, the receptor for parvovirus B19 was reported to be globoside (Gb4), a neutral glycosphingolipid (GSL) of red cell membranes. To ascertain if tissue Gb4 expression correlates with B19-associated disease, neutral GSLs from 16 human tissues were isolated and analyzed using high-performance thin-layer chromatography and immunostaining with anti-Gb4 monoclonal antibodies or B19 empty capsids. Gb4 was identified as a major neutral GSL in 11 tissues, especially in those of mesodermal origin. In addition to recognizing Gb4, B19 capsid bound to several tissue-specific GSLs, including two complex globo series GSLs (SSEA-3, SSEA-4) and paragloboside (neolactotetraglycosylceramide), as was demonstrated in red cell, granulocyte, kidney, liver, and bowel tissue. There was good correlation between tissue-neutral GSL expression, B19 capsid binding, and the tissue tropism observed clinically in B19 parvovirus-associated disease.

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