BACKGROUND: Epidermodysplasia verruciformis (EV) is a rare genodermatosis that is characterized by susceptibility to infection with specific human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes. Among polyomaviruses, the novel Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) has been found in different epithelial skin neoplasias.
OBJECTIVE: To examine whether EV is associated with cutaneous MCPyV infection.
METHODS: We used MCPyV-specific PCR to study skin neoplasms of 6 congenital EV patients and of 1 patient with acquired EV.
RESULTS: In all congenital EV patients, MCPyV DNA was found in carcinomas in situ, in invasive squamous cell carcinomas and in common warts. In 4 of these patients, the MCPyV-positive skin lesions were from different anatomic locations. In addition, 1 immunosuppressed patient suffering from acquired EV harbored MCPyV DNA in 2 common warts. In contrast, 7 normal skin samples tested negative for MCPyV DNA. Only 2 out of 24 carcinomas in situ (8.3%) and 2 out of 30 common warts (6.7%) from immunocompetent individuals were positive for MCPyV DNA.
CONCLUSIONS: The strong association of EV-associated skin neoplasms with MCPyV suggests a unique susceptibility of EV patients to infections with MCPyV. Both MCPyV and EV-HPV may act as synergistic oncogenic cofactors in the development of EV-associated skin neoplasms.