Background: The genomic DNA of parvovirus B19, a small single-stranded DNA virus of the genus Erythrovirus, has been shown to persist in solid tissues of constitutionally healthy, immunocompetent individuals. Despite these data, many case reports and series have linked the presence of parvovirus B19 genomic DNA, detected through nucleic acid amplification testing, with myocarditis and cardiomyopathy. Herein, we use multiple tools to better assess the relationship between parvovirus B19 and myocarditis and cardiomyopathy. Methods: Nucleic acid amplification testing, immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, and electron microscopy were used to assess the location and activity of parvovirus B19 in cases of myocarditis and in cases with no significant cardiac disease. Results: Nucleic acid amplification testing for parvovirus B19 genomic DNA was positive in 73% of patients with myocarditis/cardiomyopathy and in 26% of patients with no significant disease. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry showed that, in cases with amplifiable parvovirus B19 DNA, parvovirus B19 genomic DNA and viral protein production were present in rare mononuclear cells. Conclusions: In a majority of cases of myocarditis and a significant number of otherwise normal hearts, nucleic acid amplification testing detected persistent parvovirus B19 genomic DNA that did not play a significant pathogenic role. The source of parvovirus B19 DNA appeared to be interstitial mononuclear inflammatory cells and not myocardial or endothelial cells. Therefore, nucleic acid amplification testing alone is not diagnostically helpful for determining the etiology of adult myocarditis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)476-481
Number of pages6
JournalCardiovascular Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Myocarditis
  • Parvovirus B19

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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