Felis catus papillomavirus type-2 but not type-1 is detectable and transcriptionally active in the blood of healthy cats.
Papillomaviruses (PVs) are small DNA viruses that induce benign and/or malignant epithelial tumours in different species, including the domestic cat (Felis catus). To date, five F. catus papillomavirus genotypes have been identified (FcaPV-1 to FcaPV-5). FcaPV-1 is associated with skin and oral benign lesions, while FcaPV-2 infection is widely associated with feline squamous cell carcinomas. Several human and animal PVs have been found in body fluids such as peripheral blood; however, the presence of FcaPVs in non-epithelial tissues has not previously been investigated. The aim of this study was to assess the presence and gene expression of FcaPV-1 and FcaPV-2 in the blood of healthy cats. We detected FcaPV-2 DNA in 26 of 103 (25%) blood samples. Importantly, FcaPV-2 L1, E2, E6 and E7 genes were found to be expressed in 3 (25%), 11 (92%), 6 (50%) and 5 (42%) of the samples available for mRNA analysis, respectively. FcaPV-1 was not detected in any of the blood samples analysed here. The data obtained in this work suggest active and eventually productive infection of FcaPV-2 in the blood of healthy cats, implying a possible role in intra-individual spreading as well as in vertical and horizontal transmission.