Morphological and immunocytological studies have demonstrated the presence of paramyxovirus antigens in Paget's bone disease tissue and in particular antigens related to measles virus and respiratory syncytial virus. To examine the relationship between measles virus and Paget's bone disease we used hybridization and a cloned measles virus DNA probe specific for the nucleocapsid protein to detect and locate measles virus RNA sequences in Paget's bone tissue. In five patients with the disease, measles virus RNA sequences were detected not only in 80 to 90% of the multinucleated osteoclasts where there is morphological and immunocytological evidence of measles virus activity but also in 30 to 40% of mononucleated bone cells, mainly osteoblasts, osteocytes, fibroblasts and lympho-monocytes. In contrast, no hybridization was observed in bone tissue from three control patients without signs of Paget's bone disease. These results indicate that the host cell range for measles virus in Paget's disease is more widespread than has been supposed. They also demonstrate the usefulness of the hybridization method to detect viral genetic information in cells where viral antigenic activity is not detectable. These observations further support the hypothesis that measles virus is involved in the pathogenesis of Paget's bone disease.


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