Unusual bone marrow manifestations of parvovirus B19 infection in immunocompromised patients

Terri W. Crook, Beverly Barton Rogers, Richard D. McFarland, Steven H. Kroft, Pietro Muretto, Jose A. Hernandez, M. Jane Latimer, Robert W. McKenna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Parvovirus B19 is responsible for a spectrum of disease in humans. The usual bone marrow findings in acute parvovirus infections are marked erythroid hypoplasia and occasional giant erythroblasts. Intranuclear inclusions in developing erythroid precursors are rarely described in children or adults with parvovirus infection, although abundant intranuclear inclusions are commonly observed in the placenta and other tissues in infected fetuses. In this study, 8 patients are reported in whom the first evidence of parvovirus infection was the recognition of numerous intranuclear inclusions in erythroid precursors on bone marrow biopsy sections. Six of the 8 patients had documented immunodeficiencies; 4 had acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), and 2 were on chemotherapy. Five of 7 patients were negative for immunoglobulin G (IgG) anti-parvovirus antibodies, including all 4 with AIDS. Unlike the typical pattern in parvovirus infection, the bone marrow was hypercellular in most of the patients, and erythroid precursors were usually increased with the entire spectrum of normoblast maturation represented; abundant intranuclear inclusions were observed similar to the finding in fetuses. The inclusions were variably eosinophilic and compressed the chromatin against the nuclear membrane. In situ hybridization showed parvovirus B19 DNA in numerous erythroid precursors in all cases. The findings of erythroid maturation and abundant viral inclusions in these immunocompromised patients is consistent with the hypothesis that failure to produce effective IgG parvovirus neutralizing antibodies may lead to persistent infection through viral tolerance that allows erythroid development of infected cells past the pronormoblast stage. Identification of parvovirus inclusions in marrow biopsies and subsequent confirmation of infection by in situ hybridization can be important in the assessment of anemia in immunodeficient patients because serological studies for parvovirus B19 are frequently negative. (C) 2000 W.B. Saunders Company.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-168
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000


  • AIDS
  • Bone marrow
  • Immunodeficient
  • Nuclear inclusions
  • Parvovirus B19

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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