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Epidemiol Health. 2018;40(1):e2018001. English. Original Article.
Paz SP , Branco L , Pereira MA , Spessotto C , Fragoso YD .
Reference Center for Multiple Sclerosis, Santos, Brazil.
Neurology, Neuroscience and Headache Institute, Santos, Brazil.
Department of Neurology, Universidade Metropolitana de Santos, Santos, Brazil.


John Cunningham virus (JCV) is a polyoma virus that infects humans, mainly in childhood or adolescence, and presents no symptomatic manifestations. JCV can cause progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in immunosuppressed individuals, including those undergoing treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuromyelitis optica (NMO). PML is a severe and potentially fatal disease of the brain. The prevalence of JCV antibodies in human serum has been reported to be between 50.0 and 90.0%. The aim of the present study was to review worldwide data on populations of patients with MS and NMO in order to establish the rates of JCV seropositivity in these individuals.


The present review followed the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines and used the following search terms: “JCV” OR “JC virus” AND “multiple sclerosis” OR “MS” OR “NMO” OR “neuromyelitis optica” AND “prevalence.” These terms were searched for both in smaller and in larger clusters of words. The databases searched included PubMed, MEDLINE, SciELO, LILACS, Google Scholar, and Embase.


After the initial selection, 18 papers were included in the review. These articles reported the prevalence of JCV antibodies in the serum of patients with MS or NMO living in 26 countries. The systematic review identified data on 29,319 patients with MS/NMO and found that 57.1% of them (16,730 individuals) were seropositive for the anti-JCV antibody (range, 40.0 to 69.0%).


The median worldwide prevalence of JCV among adults with MS or NMO was found to be 57.1%.

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