Detection of Feline Leukemia Virus in Feline Bone Marrow Using Polymerase Chain Reaction


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Virginia Tech


Latent feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infections, in which proviral DNA is integrated into host DNA, but not actively transcribed, are suspected to be associated with many diseases. Bone marrow is the suspected site of the majority of latent infections. The purpose of this study was to determine if polymerase chain reaction (PCR) could detect FeLV proviral DNA in bone marrow and provide a method of detecting latent infections. Blood and bone marrow samples from fifty cats and bone marrow from one fetus were collected; sixteen had FeLV-associated diseases. Serum ELISA, blood and bone marrow immunofluorescent antibody test (IFA), and blood and bone marrow PCR were performed on each cat, and IFA and PCR on bone marrow of the fetus. Forty-one cats were FeLV negative. Five cats and one fetus were persistently infected with FeLV. Four cats were discordant; two ELISA positive with other tests negative, one bone marrow IFA negative with other tests positive, and one bone marrow IFA positive with other tests negative. No cats were positive on bone marrow PCR only. These results indicate that PCR can detect FeLV in bone marrow, but no cats in this study harbored FeLV only in the bone marrow. Not all cats with FeLV-associated diseases are persistently or latently infected with FeLV.



polymerase chain reaction, feline leukemia virus, bone marrow, latent infection