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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Simian virus 40 in humans

Fernanda Martini1, Alfredo Corallini2, Veronica Balatti1, Silvia Sabbioni2, Cecilia Pancaldi1 and Mauro Tognon1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Morphology and Embryology, Section of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, School of Medicine, and Center of Biotechnology, University of Ferrara, Via Fossato di Mortara, 64/B. 44100 Ferrara, Italy

2 Department of Experimental and Diagnostic Medicine, Section of Microbiology, University of Ferrara, Via Luigi Borsari, 46. 44100 Ferrara, Italy

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Infectious Agents and Cancer 2007, 2:13  doi:10.1186/1750-9378-2-13

Published: 9 July 2007

Abstract

Simian virus 40 (SV40) is a monkey virus that was administered to human populations by contaminated vaccines which were produced in SV40 naturally infected monkey cells.

Recent molecular biology and epidemiological studies suggest that SV40 may be contagiously transmitted in humans by horizontal infection, independently from the earlier administration of SV40-contaminated vaccines.

SV40 footprints in humans have been found associated at high prevalence with specific tumor types such as brain and bone tumors, mesotheliomas and lymphomas and with kidney diseases, and at lower prevalence in blood samples from healthy donors.

Contrasting reports appeared in the literature on the circulation of SV40 in humans by contagious transmission and its association, as a possible etiologic cofactor, with specific human tumors. As a consequence of the conflicting results, a considerable debate has developed in the scientific community. In the present review we consider the main results obtained by different groups investigating SV40 sequences in human tumors and in blood specimens, the putative role of SV40 in the onset/progression of specific human tumors, and comment on the hypotheses arising from these data.