Detection of Marek's disease virus DNA in chicken but not in human plasma

Holger Hennig*, Nikolaus Osterrieder, Michael Müller-Steinhardt, Hanns Martin Teichert, Holger Kirchner, Klaus Peter Wandinger

*Corresponding author for this work
11 Citations (Scopus)


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 α-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 I 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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)2428-2432
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2003


Dive into the research topics of 'Detection of Marek's disease virus DNA in chicken but not in human plasma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this