Sign in →

Epic Test Code LAB101011 JC Virus, Molecular Detection, PCR, Spinal Fluid

Additional Codes



Reporting Name


Useful For

Aids in diagnosing progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy due to JC virus (JCV)


This test is not to be used as a diagnostic tool for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

Performing Laboratory

Mayo Clinic Laboratories in Rochester

Specimen Type


Specimen Required

Supplies: Aliquot Tube, 5 mL (T465)

Preferred: 12 x 75-mm screw cap vial (T465)

Acceptable: Sterile screw cap vial

Container/Tube: Sterile vial

Specimen Volume: 0.5 mL

Collection Instructions: Do not centrifuge.

Specimen Minimum Volume

0.3 mL

Specimen Stability Information

Specimen Type Temperature Time
CSF Refrigerated (preferred) 7 days
  Frozen  7 days

Reference Values


Day(s) and Time(s) Performed

Monday through Friday

CPT Code Information


Clinical Information

JC virus (JCV), a member of the genus Polyomavirus, is a small nonenveloped DNA-containing virus. Primary infection occurs in early childhood, with a prevalence of greater than 80%.(1) The virus is latent but can reactivate in immunosuppressed patients, especially those with AIDS.


JCV is recognized as the etiologic agent of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a fatal demyelinating disease of the central nervous system.(2,3) Histologic examination of brain biopsy tissue may reveal characteristic pathologic changes localized mainly in oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. Detection of JCV DNA by PCR (target gene, large T antigen) in the cerebrospinal fluid specimens of patients with suspected PML infection has replaced the need for biopsy tissue for laboratory diagnosis.(4) Importantly, the PCR test is specific with no cross-reaction with BK virus, a closely related polyomavirus.


Detection of JC virus (JCV) DNA supports the clinical diagnosis of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy due to JCV.


A negative result does not rule out the possibility of JC virus (JCV) infection.


The reference range in cerebrospinal fluid is "negative" for this assay, although JCV DNA may be detectable in the absence of clinical symptoms in certain patient populations.(5,6) However, this assay is only to be used for patients with appropriate neurological and neuroradiological features of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, and is not indicated for screening asymptomatic patients.

Supportive Data

The following data supports the use of this assay for clinical testing.



Twenty-six negative cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimens were spiked with JC virus (JCV)-positive control plasmid at the limit of detection (approximately 10 targets/mcL). The 26 spiked specimens were run in a blinded manner with 14 negative (nonspiked) specimens. 100% of the spiked specimens were positive and 100% of the nonspiked specimens were negative.


Analytical Sensitivity/Limit of Detection (LoD:

The lower limit of detection (LoD) of this assay is 10 DNA target copies per mcL in CSF.


Analytical Specificity:

No PCR signal was obtained from the extracts of 15 viral isolates that may cause similar symptoms or be found in the CSF, including herpes simples virus (HSV) types 1 and 2, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), human herpesvirus (HHV)-6, HHV-7, HHV-8, enterovirus, mumps, adenovirus, BK virus, and Simian virus 40 (SV40).



Interassay precision was 100% and intraassay precision was 100%.


Reference Range:

The reference range in CSF is "negative" for this assay.


Reportable Range:

This is a qualitative assay and the results are reported as either negative or positive for targeted JCV DNA.

Analytic Time

Monday through Thursday: 2 days; Friday, Saturday: 3 days

Specimen Retention Time

1 week

Reject Due To









NY State Approved


Method Name

Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)/DNA Probe Hybridization


If not ordering electronically, complete, print, and send a Microbiology Test Request (T244) with the specimen.

Testing Algorithm

See Meningitis/Encephalitis Panel Algorithm in Special Instructions.