Author(s): Smith KJ, Skelton H
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Abstract Two poxviruses, Molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) and Variola virus are specific to humans. MCV is present worldwide and is directly passed by direct skin to skin contact to produce cutaneous and, rarely, mucosal lesions. It occurs predominantly in preadolescent children, sexually active adults, participants in sports with skin to skin contact, and in individuals with impaired cellular immunity. MCV characteristically proliferates within the follicular epithelium, and with routine fixation produces an area of retraction artifact separating layers 1 to 3 of CD34+ stromal cells that immediately surround the follicle from the surrounding dermis. This feature may be obscured when the lesions are inflamed, usually after rupture into the surrounding dermis. MCV is a cytoplasmically replicating virus. MCV-infected cells grow in size, while internal organelles are dislocated and eventually obliterated by a large intracytoplasmic inclusion. Rupture and discharge of the virus-packed cells occurs in a process similar to membrane debris and MCV accumulate in the crater-like ostium; MCV infection is spread by contact with infectious debris. In HIV-1-positive patients the histologic features, as well as the clinical features, may be atypical in patients with MCV infections. Not only are the lesions often large, but they may be verrucous and markedly hyperkeratotic. Recent sequencing of the MCV genome has increased our understanding and investigations into its mechanisms for avoiding host defense mechanisms. These include regions which encode for homologues of cellular chemokines and chemokine-binding proteins, a homolog of MHC1 and a viral FLICE-like inhibitory protein. Treatment, until recently, has depended upon tissue destruction including curettage, cryotherapy, CO(2) laser, electrodesiccation, trichloracetic acid and cantharadin. Recently, topical immune modulators have been used with some success. Understanding of the MCV genome is providing the basis for the development of drugs for therapy and prevention of MCV infections.
This article was published in Am J Clin Dermatol
and referenced in Journal of Tropical Diseases & Public Health