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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2012, Article ID 542092, 10 pages
Review Article

Review on the Relationship between Human Polyomaviruses-Associated Tumors and Host Immune System

1Laboratory of Transkìlational Research, Health Science Foundation “Ettore Sansavini”, Corso Garibaldi, 11-48022 Lugo, Italy
2Department of Reproductive, Developmental and Public Health Sciences, University of Trieste, Via dell’Istria 65/1, 34137 Trieste, Italy
3Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS “Burlo Garofolo”, Via dell’Istria 65/1, 34137 Trieste, Italy
4Department of Public Health, Microbiology, Virology, University of Milano, Via Pascal 36, 20133 Milan, Italy
5Istituto Clinico Città Studi, Via Ampere, 47, 20133 Milano, Italy

Received 4 November 2011; Accepted 11 January 2012

Academic Editor: Ludovica Segat

Copyright © 2012 Serena Delbue et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The polyomaviruses are small DNA viruses that can establish latency in the human host. The name polyomavirus is derived from the Greek roots poly-, which means “many,” and -oma, which means “tumours.” These viruses were originally isolated in mouse (mPyV) and in monkey (SV40). In 1971, the first human polyomaviruses BK and JC were isolated and subsequently demonstrated to be ubiquitous in the human population. To date, at least nine members of the Polyomaviridae family have been identified, some of them playing an etiological role in malignancies in immunosuppressed patients. Here, we describe the biology of human polyomaviruses, their nonmalignant and malignant potentials ability, and their relationship with the host immune response.