Passenger virus

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A passenger virus is a virus that is frequently found in samples from diseased tissue, such as tumours, but does not contribute to causing the disease.

Experimental demonstration of passenger status

Proving that a virus has no causative role can be difficult. Although none of the following signs is definitive, evidence that a virus found in diseased tissue is a passenger rather than a causative agent includes:

  • injection of the virus into healthy animals without causing disease;
  • the absence of the virus at the earliest stages of the disease;
  • curing the viral infection using antiviral drugs or vaccination with no effect on the course of the disease.

Examples

A well-established example is lactate dehydrogenase virus, which is often found in mouse tumours.[1] GB virus C and Chandipura virus are possible examples in humans.[2][3] It has also been suggested that a virus related to Alcelaphine herpesvirus 1 is a passenger virus that, unlike AHV1 itself, doesn't cause bovine malignant catarrhal fever.[4] The discredited Duesberg hypothesis posits that HIV is a passenger virus in the etiology of AIDS.[5]

References

  1. Mongini PK, Rosenberg LT. (1976) Inhibition of lymphocyte trapping by a passenger virus in murine ascitic tumors: characterization of lactic dehydrogenase virus (LDV) as the inhibitory component and analysis of the mechanism of inhibition. J Exp Med 143: 100–113 (PMID 1244415) (full text)
  2. Mphahlele MJ, Lau GK, Carman WF. (1998) HGV: the identification, biology and prevalence of an orphan virus. Liver 18: 143–155 (PMID 9716223)
  3. Potharaju NR, Potharaju AK (2006) Is Chandipura virus an emerging human pathogen? Arch Dis Child 91: 279–280 (PMID 16492900) (full text)
  4. Metzler, Alfred E (January 1991). "The malignant catarrhal fever complex". Comparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. 14 (2): 107–124. doi:10.1016/0147-9571(91)90125-W.
  5. Duesberg P, Rasnick D. (1998) The AIDS dilemma: drug diseases blamed on a passenger virus. Genetica 104: 85–132 (doi:10.1023/A:1003405220186 PMID 10220905)
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