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Microorganisms 2019, 7(2), 54;

Merkel Cell Polyomavirus Is Associated with Anal Infections in Men Who Have Sex with Men

Institute for Maternal and Child Health—IRCCS “Burlo Garofolo”, 34137 Trieste, Italy
Department of Biomedical, Surgical and Dental Sciences, University of Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy
MST Center, ASUITS, 34100 Trieste, Italy
Department of Medical Science, University of Trieste, 34127 Trieste, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 December 2018 / Revised: 13 February 2019 / Accepted: 14 February 2019 / Published: 19 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Medical Microbiology)
PDF [255 KB, uploaded 19 February 2019]


Background: Viral infections of the anal/rectal tract of men who have sex with men (MSM) have been poorly studied. Methods: In total, 158 swab samples (81 anal/rectal, 65 throat/oral and 12 urethral) were collected from 126 MSM. DNA was isolated and subjected to real-time PCR assays for the detection of the sexually transmitted (ST) pathogens Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Mycoplasmas ssp, human papillomavirus (HPV) and six human polyomaviruses (HPyVs; JCPyV, BKPyV, Merkel cell PyV–MCPyV-, HPyV-6, HPyV-7 and HPyV-9). Results: C. trachomatis (31/126, 24.6%) and M. genitalium (30/126, 23.8%) were the most frequently detected ST pathogens. Thirty-one/126 (24.6%) patients were positive for at least one HPyV. The significantly (p < 0.05) prevalent HPyV in the anal tract was MCPyV, which was amplified in 27/81 (33.3%) samples, followed by HPyV-6, which was amplified in 6/81 (7.4%) swabs. Coinfections with MCPyV and C. trachomatis or Mycoplasmas were found in 4/21 (19.0%) and 5/21 (23.8%) anal/rectal swabs, respectively. Three/4 MCPyV-C. trachomatis coinfected patients were symptomatic. Conclusions: Based on the high prevalence of MCPyV in the anal/rectal swabs from MSM patients and on the well-known oncogenic properties of MCPyV, sexual transmission and possible involvement of HPyVs in the pathogenesis of diseases of the anal canal should be further studied. View Full-Text
Keywords: men who have sex with men (MSM); sexually transmitted infection (STI); Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) men who have sex with men (MSM); sexually transmitted infection (STI); Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV)
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Zanotta, N.; Delbue, S.; Signorini, L.; Villani, S.; D’Alessandro, S.; Campisciano, G.; Colli, C.; De Seta, F.; Ferrante, P.; Comar, M. Merkel Cell Polyomavirus Is Associated with Anal Infections in Men Who Have Sex with Men. Microorganisms 2019, 7, 54.

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