Brief Report: The Virome of Bladder Tumors Arising in People Living with HIV

Gabriel J. Starrett, Haidn Foster, Keith Sigel, Yuxin Liu, Eric A. Engels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background:People living with HIV (PLWH) have elevated risk for developing virus-related cancers. Bladder cancer risk is not increased in PLWH but is elevated among immunosuppressed solid organ transplant recipients (SOTRs). BK polyomavirus and, to a lesser extent, other viruses have been detected in bladder cancers from SOTRs.Objective:To characterize the virome of bladder tumors in PLWH.Design:Retrospective case series.Methods:We sequenced DNA and RNA from archived formalin-fixed bladder tumors from PLWH. Nonhuman reads were assembled and matched to a database of known viruses.Results:Fifteen bladder tumors from PLWH (13 carcinomas, 2 benign tumors) were evaluated. Fourteen tumors were in men, and the median age at diagnosis was 59 years (median CD4 count 460 cells/mm3). All but 1 tumor yielded both sufficient DNA and RNA. One bladder cancer, arising in a 52-year-old man with a CD4 count of 271 cells/mm3, manifested diverse Alphatorquevirus DNA and RNA sequences. A second cancer arising in a 58-year-old male former smoker (CD4 count of 227 cells/mm3) also showed Alphatorquevirus and Gammatorquevirus DNA sequences. Neither tumor exhibited viral integration.Conclusions:Alphatorqueviruses and Gammatorqueviruses are anelloviruses, which have also been detected in bladder cancers from SOTRs, but anelloviruses are common infections, and detection may simply reflect increased abundance in the setting of immunosuppression. The lack of detection of BK polyomavirus among bladder tumors from PLWH parallels the lower level of bladder cancer risk seen in PLWH compared with SOTRs, indirectly supporting a role for BK polyomavirus in causing the excess risk in SOTRs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-340
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • BK polyomavirus
  • HIV
  • anellovirus
  • bladder cancer
  • solid organ transplantation
  • virome


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