BACKGROUND: Xenotropic murine leukemia virus–related virus (XMRV) has been reported in patients with prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome. Although results have been conflicting, the potential of XMRV as an infectious human retrovirus has raised concerns about transfusion safety. To address this issue, normal and retrovirus-infected blood donors were screened for evidence of XMRV infection.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Plasma from 1000 US, 100 human immunodeficiency virus Type 1–infected Cameroonian, and 642 human T-lymphotropic virus Type I (HTLV-I)-infected or uninfected Japanese blood donors as well as 311 sexually transmitted disease diagnostic specimens were screened for antibodies to XMRV gp70 and p15E using chemiluminescent immunoassays (CMIAs). CMIA-reactive samples were evaluated by p30 CMIA, Western blot, and real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction.
RESULTS: XMRV seroreactivity was low (0%-0.6%) with the exception of the HTLV-I–infected donors (4.9%). Antibody was detected against only a single XMRV protein (p15E or gp70); none of the seroreactive samples had detectable XMRV pol or env sequences. The elevated seroreactivity in HTLV-I–infected donors was due to an increased p15E seroreactive rate (4.1%). Inspection of XMRV and HTLV sequences revealed a high level of conservation within the immunodominant region (IDR) of the transmembrane protein. In some cases, HTLV IDR peptide competitively reduced the XMRV p15E signal.
CONCLUSIONS: Based on the low prevalence of seroreactivity, detection of antibody to only a single XMRV protein and the absence of XMRV sequences, this study finds no compelling evidence of XMRV in normal or retrovirus-infected blood donors. The increased p15E seroreactivity observed in HTLV infection is likely due to cross-reactive antibodies.