• Open Access

High JC virus load in gastric cancer and adjacent non-cancerous mucosa


To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: ymp@med.u-toyama.ac.jp


The JC virus (JCV) infects a large proportion of the worldwide population and approximately 90% of adults are seropositive. Recent reports have described the possibility of its oncogenetic role in several malignancies. The aim of the present study was to assess the oncogenetic significance of JCV for gastric cancer. Twenty-two sample pairs of fresh tumor and adjacent non-cancerous tissue (ANCT) as well as 10 normal gastric mucosa specimens were investigated on the basis of nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) followed by Southern blotting, DNA direct sequencing, real-time PCR, in situ PCR and immunohistochemistry. The T antigen sequence was detected in 86.4% of gastric cancers and ANCT, and in 100% of the normal mucosa samples, as for virus capsid protein, 54.1%, 68.1% and 70%, respectively. A generally low incidence was noted for agnoprotein. The JCV DNA load was approximately 10-fold higher in both gastric cancers and paired ANCT (4784 ± 759 and 5394 ± 1466 copies/µg DNA, respectively) than in normal gastric tissue (542.4 ± 476.0 copies/µg DNA, P < 0.0001). In situ PCR revealed sporadic JCV genome-positive cancer cells and foveolar epithelial cells. T antigen protein expression assessed by immunohistochemistry was detected only in one case (1/22; 4.5%), probably because the half life of T antigen might be short. It was concluded that the gastric epithelium in most Japanese people is infected with JCV at a low rate but levels of infection are increased markedly in both cancer cells and ANCT, indicating that multiplication of JCV copies might be a risk factor and a background for gastric carcinogenesis. (Cancer Sci 2007; 98: 25–31)