BACKGROUND: Human parvovirus B19 (B19) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is now a routine analysis and serves as a diagnostic marker as well as a complement or alternative to B19 serology. The clinical significance of a positive B19 DNA finding is however dependent on the type of tissue or body fluid analysed and of the immune status of the patient. OBJECTIVES: To analyse the clinical significance of B19 DNA positivity in bone marrow samples from rheumatic patients. STUDY DESIGN: Parvovirus B19 DNA was analysed in paired bone marrow and serum samples by nested PCR technique. Serum was also analysed for B19-specific IgG and IgM antibodies and the results were compared with clinical and epidemiological data. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: B19 IgG was found in 41 of 50 patients (82%) whereas none was B19 IgM positive. The serologic evaluation showed that none of the patients had acute B19 infection. However, B19 DNA was detected by PCR in 13 of 50 (26%) bone marrow samples from these patients indicating a high frequency of persistent infection compared with previous reports of patient groups and healthy controls. In the study, 22 patients had rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and 7 of these RA patients were B19 DNA positive in bone marrow. Rheumatoid factor was positive in 4 of the 7 B19 DNA positive RA patients as compared with Rheumatoid factor positivity in all of the 15 B19 DNA negative RA patients. Erosive arthritis in X-ray was less common in the B19 DNA positive group than in the B19 DNA negative group. A high frequency of parvovirus B19 DNA was thus detected in bone marrow samples in rheumatic patients. The clinical data does not support a direct association between B19 PCR positivity and rheumatic disease manifestation. Therefore, the clinical significance of B19 DNA positivity in bone marrow samples from rheumatic patients must be interpreted with caution.
Journal of Clinical Virology, 2005, Vol 33, Issue 1, p. 71-4