Quantitative detection of Merkel cell virus in human tissues and possible mode of transmission

Myriam Loyo, Rafael Guerrero-Preston, Mariana Brait, Mohmammad O. Hoque, Alice Chuang, Myoung S. Kim, Rajni Sharma, Nanette J. Liégeois, Wayne M. Koch, Joseph A. Califano, William H. Westra, David Sidransky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


Merkel Cell Virus (MCV) is a newly discovered polyomavirus, recently found in a rare skin cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). However, MCV has also been detected in some normal tissue samples. We tested and compared the relative quantity of the MCV in a set of diverse human tissue samples with the MCC samples. The levels of MCV in MCCs were over 60 times higher than the highest values in all other tissues. Low quantities of MCV were detected in diverse tissue samples independently of malignant or benign histologic status. Higher levels of the virus were found in the upper aerodigestive tract, digestive system, and saliva compared to the lung and genitourinary system samples. These results confirm that MCV is widespread in the human body and suggest a possible fecal-oral transmission route similar to the Hepatitis A virus. Despite widespread presence of the virus, it appears that only neuroendocrine skin cells are susceptible to transformation by MCV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2991-2996
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Infectious agents and cancer
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Merkel cell virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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