XMRV (xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus) is a gammaretrovirus first discovered in human prostate carcinomas and later linked to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Emerging conflicting data and lack of reproducibility of results within the scientific community has now led to the association of XMRV with CFS being discounted. Indeed the case for an involvement with any human disease has been questioned with the suggestion that XMRV is a laboratory generated recombinant virus. The fact that not all published positive findings can be easily explained as contamination artefacts coupled with the observation that XMRV may have a sexually transmitted mode of infectivity and can be infectious for primates, where it preferential resides in cells of the reproductive tract, prompted us to look for evidence of XMRV in the cervical cells of a cohort of Kenyan women both with and without pre-existing HIV/HPV infections.
Using a highly sensitive and selective triplex PCR approach we analysed DNA from the liquid based cytology (LBC) cervical smears of 224 Kenyan women. There was no evidence of XMRV expression in any of the sample population irrespective of HPV and/or HIV status.
The data presented show no indication of XMRV infection in any of the cervical samples screened in this study. Approximately 50% of the women were HIV positive but this did not influence the findings signifying that XMRV does not act as an opportunistic infection in this cohort nor is it related to HPV status. Our results therefore support the findings that XMRV is confined to the laboratory and does not currently represent an infectious agent for humans, with a cautionary adage that such potential zoonotic viruses should be carefully monitored in the future.