J Clin Microbiol. 2003 Jun;41(6):2428-2432
Hennig H, Osterrieder N, Muller-Steinhardt M, Teichert HM, Kirchner H, Wandinger KP.
Institute of Immunology and Transfusion Medicine. Institute of Mathematics, University of Lubeck, D-23538 Lubeck. Institute of Molecular Biology, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institutes, Federal Research Centre for Virus Disease of Animals, D-17498 Insel Riems. Department of Neurology, Charite Campus Mitte, D-10117 Berlin, Germany.
Marek's disease virus (MDV) causes a common lymphomatous and neuropathic disease in domestic chickens and, less commonly, turkeys and quail.
It is a member of the alpha-herpesviruses and until now was considered to be strongly cell associated.
In 1991, MDV was suggested to be the causative infectious agent of multiple sclerosis (MS) in humans.
In a previous study, we investigated the leukocytes of 107 well-defined MS patients for the presence of MDV DNA but were unable to confirm a role for MDV in the pathogenesis of MS.
A recent report (S. Laurent, E. Esnault, G. Dambrine, A. Goudeau, D. Choudat, and D. Rasschaert, J. Gen. Virol. 82:233-240, 2001) described the detection of MDV DNA in 20% of 202 human serum samples, regardless of whether the individuals were exposed to poultry.
The detection of MDV DNA in chicken serum samples was reported as well.
The aim of the present study was to investigate whether we can confirm the presence of MDV DNA in chickens and humans if we use plasma as the source for nucleic acid isolation.
Leukocytes and plasma specimens from 16 chickens experimentally infected with MDV serotype 1 and plasma specimens from 300 volunteer blood donors were tested for MDV DNA by two different TaqMan PCR assays.
MDV DNA was repeatedly found in the leukocytes as well as in the plasma specimens of all 16 animals.
All human samples analyzed, however, tested negative by both assays.
Accordingly, Marek's disease in chickens can be diagnosed by detection of MDV DNA in plasma as well as in leukocytes.
Once again, we found no evidence for the spread of MDV to humans.