The human retrovirus XMRV in prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome

Robert H. Silverman, Carvell Nguyen, Christopher J. Weight, Eric A. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) is an authentic, newly recognized human retrovirus first identified in prostate cancer tissues from men with a deficiency in the innate immunity gene RNASEL. At present, studies have detected XMRV at widely different rates in prostate cancer cases (0-27%) and in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS; 0-67%). Indirect or direct modes of carcinogenesis by XMRV have been suggested depending on whether the virus was found in stroma or malignant epithelium. Viral replication in the prostate might be affected by androgens, which stimulate XMRV through a transcriptional enhancer site in viral DNA. By contrast, host restriction factors, such as APOBEC3 and tetherin, inhibit virus replication. Immune dysfunction mediated by XMRV has been suggested as a possible factor in CFS. Recent studies show that some existing antiretroviral drugs suppress XMRV infections and diagnostic assays are under development. Although other retroviruses of the same genus as XMRV (gammaretroviruses) cause cancer and neurological disease in animals, whether XMRV is a cause of either prostate cancer or CFS remains unknown. Emerging science surrounding XMRV is contributing to our knowledge of retroviral infections while focusing intense interest on two major human diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-402
Number of pages11
JournalNature Reviews Urology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
we wish to gratefully acknowledge financial support for our research studies from the NIH (NCI), grant CA103943, US Department of Defense, grant w81XwH-07-1-338, Mal and Lea Bank, the Charlotte Geyer Foundation, the Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation, and Abbott Laboratories.


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