Virological and immune evidence of Human gamma retrovirus infection in M.E.
On the second anniversary of the publication Dr Judy A Mikovits presented a paper regarding evidence supporting infection of ME patients with Xenotropic MLV-related viruses at the Fibromylagia ME conference in Tullamore, Ireland. Dr Mikovits explained the recent finding that DNA samples described in the 2009 Lombardi et al. publication were found to be contaminated with an XMRV virus clone named VP62.
The reporting of incorrect viral sequences explains why the experiments designed to replicate the PCR data described in the Lombardi et al. paper have given negative results in many laboratories.
Dr. Mikovits described the detection of gammaretrovirus protein directly from un-manipulated plasma, direct isolation of gamma retroviruses from blood cells of ME/CFS patients shown clearly by electron microscopy, cell-associated and cell-free transmission of virus to uninfected primary cells and cell lines, antibodies against an envelope protein derived from a murine leukemia virus in serum of CFS/ME patients. In the 2009 work, serum from more patients than controls exhibited antibodies against the viral envelope protein.
These findings are not affected by the errors in Figure 1 and in the virus genome sequencing and in fact explain discrepancies in Figure 1 and the protein/antibody data shown in the paper.
Individuals whose immune systems have made antibodies to a gammaretrovirus envelope protein have been exposed at some time to similar polypeptides. The identity of the proteins that elicited in the antibodies is not presently known; all that is known is that they are highly similar to proteins known to be present in gammaretroviruses.
Dr Mikovits described how XMRV has suffered from an issue of nomenclature. Dr Mikovits and colleagues used “XMRV” to mean viruses with sequences similar to the virus reported by Urisman et al. in 2006 to be present in prostate cancer tissues.
However, “XMRV” has come to mean only the sequence of the virus molecularly cloned (but not isolated) in 2006 and the nearly identical viruses that have been found in some cell culture lines.
In order to clarify nomencaltrue for future research on gammaretroviruses, Dr Mikovits proposes referring to gammaretroviruses detected in humans as “HGRVs”, human gammaretroviruses.
Although it is known that ...
a variety of gammaretroviruses can infect human cells in culture, further work is needed to determine whether one or more gammaretroviruses infect humans and whether they are associated with neuroimmune diseases including ME and Fibromylagia.
Dr Mikovits research is performing serological studies that will be able to determine the proportion of the patient and healthy populations that have been exposed to gammaretroviral proteins and have mounted an immune response, even if the gammaretroviral proteins are not identical to those in the “XMRV” sequence, VP62.
Judgments on the value of future research on gammaretroviruses in neuroimmune diseases CFS/ME and Fibromylagia must await further research utilizing uniformly collected samples from carefully chosen patients and controls.