Bones hold the key to DNA virus history and epidemiology

M. Toppinen, M. F. Perdomo, J. U. Palo, Peter Simmonds, Samantha Lycett, M. Soderlund-Venermo, Antti Sajantila, K. Hedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


DNA in human skeletal remains represents an important historical source of host genomic information and potentially of infecting viruses. However, little is known about viral persistence in bone. We searched ca. 70-year-old long bones of putative Finnish casualties from World War II for parvovirus B19 (B19V) DNA, and found a remarkable prevalence of 45%. The viral sequences were exclusively of genotypes 2 (n = 41), which disappeared from circulation in 1970´s, or genotype 3 (n = 2), which has never been reported in Northern Europe. Based on mitochondrial and Y-chromosome profiling, the two individuals carrying B19V genotype 3 were likely from the Soviet Red Army. The most recent common ancestor for all genotypes was estimated at early 1800s. This work demonstrates the forms of B19V that circulated in the first half of the 20th century and provides the first evidence of the suitability of bone for exploration of DNA viruses.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17226
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date27 Nov 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2015


  • Parvovirus B19, Human


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