After primary exposure, the human parvovirus B19 (B19V) genome may remain in the central nervous system (CNS), establishing a lifelong latency. The structural characteristics and functions of the infected cells are essential for the virus to complete its life cycle. Although B19V has been detected in the brain tissue by sequencing PCR products, little is known about its in vivo cell tropism and pathogenic potential in the CNS. To detect B19V and investigate the distribution of its target cells in the CNS, we studied brain autopsies of elderly subjects using molecular virology, and optical and electron microscopy methods. Our study detected B19V in brain tissue samples from both encephalopathy and control groups, suggesting virus persistence within the CNS throughout the host’s lifetime. It appears that within the CNS, the main target of B19V is oligodendrocytes. The greatest number of B19V-positive oligodendrocytes was found in the white matter of the frontal lobe. The number was significantly lower in the gray matter of the frontal lobe (p
= 0.008) and the gray and white matter of the temporal lobes (p
< 0.0001). The morphological changes observed in the encephalopathy group, propose a possible B19V involvement in the demyelination process.
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