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J Med Virol. 1998 Dec;56(4):372-6.

Transplacental transmission of human polyomavirus BK.

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Institute of Microbiology, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.


The presence of BK virus (BKV) and JC virus (JCV) in autopsy materials (placenta, brain, and kidney) of aborted fetuses was investigated by PCR using two sets of primers, specific for the regulatory region (RR) and for the capsid protein VP1, respectively. The RR of BKV was detected in 12 samples of placenta and brain and in nine samples of kidney obtained from 15 fetuses. Out of the 12 positive cases, four placentas, one brain, and three kidney samples also showed the presence of BKV DNA in the VP1 region. Of 12 placentas from a control group with a normal pregnancy outcome, the RR of BKV was detected in six samples, four of which were also positive for the VP1 region. None of the samples from either group was positive for the RR of JCV. In two cases, the nucleotide sequence of the BK RR demonstrated that the viruses isolated from maternal and fetal tissues showed a high homology with one another and had a characteristic deletion of the R63 box compared to the archetype strain. The results indicate that BKV may be transmitted vertically.

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