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PCR and serology find no association between xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) and autism

Brent C Satterfield1*, Rebecca A Garcia1, Fiorella Gurrieri2 and Charles E Schwartz3

Author Affiliations

1 Cooperative Diagnostics, LLC, Greenwood, SC 29646, USA

2 Institute of Medical Genetics, Catholic University, Rome, Italy

3 Greenwood Genetic Center, Greenwood, SC 29646, USA

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Molecular Autism 2010, 1:14  doi:10.1186/2040-2392-1-14

Published: 14 October 2010


Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) is a retrovirus implicated in prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Press releases have suggested that it could contribute to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this study we used two PCR assays and one antibody assay to screen 25 blood samples from autistic children born to mothers with CFS and from 20 mixed controls including family members of the children assayed, people with fibromyalgia and people with chronic Lyme disease. Using a real-time PCR assay, we screened an additional 48 South Carolina autism disorder samples, 96 Italian ASD samples, 61 South Carolina ASD samples and 184 healthy controls. Despite having the ability to detect low copy number XMRV DNA in a large background of cellular DNA, none of the PCR assays found any evidence of XMRV infection in blood cells from patients or controls. Further, no anti-XMRV antibodies were detected, ruling out possible low level or abortive infections in blood or in other reservoirs. These results imply that XMRV is not associated with autism.