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ME/CFS Transmission

"Cell culture experiments revealed that patient-derived XMRV is infectious and that both cell associated and cell-free transmission of the virus are possible."
Mikovits, Lombardi, et al

As we state on our Epidemics research page, history strongly suggests contagion may be at least in part responsible for the pathogenesis of ME/CFS.   We hope to keep everyone informed as new data are emerging at a rapid pace with the discovery of XMRV/HGRV, and studies of blood products, body fluids, tissue transplants and other venues of transmission are in their infancy.


2009 - 2010


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Blood Donation Bans

Australia, New Zealand, Canada have banned blood donations from ME/CFS patients, and the  American Association of Blood Banks has recommended ME/CFS patients to not donate blood.  The European ME Alliance has also called for a Europe-wide ban on blood donations from ME/CFS patients.

Online Medical Dictionary

Background image: Artist renderings of XMRV



Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus–related Gammaretrovirus in Respiratory
Fischer N, Schulz C, Stieler K, Hohn O, Lange C, Drosten C, et al. Xenotropic murine leukemia virus–related gammaretrovirus in respiratory tract. Emerg Infect Dis  [serial on the Internet on the Internet]. 2010 Jun [date cited].
http://www.cdc.gov/EID/content/16/6/1000.htm "XMRV-specific sequences were detected in 2%–3% of samples from 168 immunocompetent carriers and ≈10% of samples from 161 immunocompromised patients."
"Our findings indicate that XMRV or virus-infected cells might be carried in and transmitted by the respiratory tract. Attempts to isolate infectious virus from XMRV sequence–positive respiratory samples failed, possibly because of inadequate storage of samples before virus culturing attempts or relatively low copy numbers of the virus within the samples. Thus, whether the respiratory tract serves as a putative transmission route for XMRV cannot be determined at this time. The observed increase in prevalence among immunosuppressed patients with RTI suggests that XMRV might be reactivated in absence of an efficient antiviral defense. Together with earlier observations on increased XMRV replication in RNase L–deficient cells (1,12), this finding implies that the immune system plays a role in controlling XMRV replication. It remains unknown whether immunosuppression predisposes a patient to secrete infectious XMRV from the respiratory tract or whether presence of virus might be meaningless for epidemiology in a way similar to HIV-1 (15). Future studies should address whether the respiratory tract might serve as a source of XMRV infection or whether immunosuppression might cause an increased risk for primary infection."


The Prevalence of Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus-related Virus in Healthy Blood Donors in Japan. Rika A. Furuta1, Takayuki Miyazawa2, Takeki Sugiyama3, Takafumi Kimura1, Fumiya Hirayama1, Yoshihiko Tani1 and Hirotoshi Shibata1 "The results of genomic PCR performing on the PBMCs indicate that XMRV is sustained in a few fractions of blood cells and can spread through blood even though the virus replication rate appears to be very low."

Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  Vincent C. Lombardi, Francis W. Ruscetti, Jaydip Das Gupta,Max A. Pfost, Kathryn S. Hagen, Daniel L. Peterson, Sandra K. Ruscetti, Rachel K. Bagni, Cari Petrow-Sadowski, Bert Gold, Michael Dean, Robert H. Silverman, Judy A. Mikovits (Abstract)  "Cell culture experiments revealed that patient-derived XMRV is infectious and that both cell associated and cell-free transmission of the virus are possible. Secondary viral infections were established in uninfected primary lymphocytes and indicator cell lines following exposure to activated PBMCs, B cells, T cells, or plasma derived from CFS patients. These findings raise the possibility that XMRV may be a contributing factor in the pathogenesis of CFS."
Supporting Online Material
Full article reprint
(8 October 2009) Science [DOI: 10.1126/science.1179052]



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