Medical Relevance

Cases of pneumonia infections are mysterious in 20%-50% around the world (La Scola, 2005). However, results indicated that Mimivirus were somewhat correlated with the community and hospital acquired pneumonia. Reports showed serologic evidence of APMV infection in 7.1% – 9.7% of patients with community acquired pneumonia (La Scola, 2005 & Berger, 2006). In the study performed by La Scola, 2005, 887 Canadian patients (376 with community acquired pneumonia and 511 healthy controls) were tested for presence of Mimivirus. The control showed twelve people with the antibody for the Mimivirus, while 36 patients in the pneumonia infected group had antibodies to the Mimivirus. These results indicated that Mimivirus is found in some cases of pneumonia. This study does not show that the Mimivirus is the cause for this infection. They were only able to show colonization of the Mimivirus. If Mimivirus is found to be the cause of pneumonia then more studies should be done to find out how to treat it. It also raises questions on how effective human antibodies are in stopping the Mimivirus life cycle.

Another study was performed by Khan in 2007. He researched the effects of Mimivirus on humans. Results show that Mimivirus can infect mammalian cells in laboratory conditions. In the study, the scientists inoculated an adult mouse with pneumonia and found that the disease was developed within three to seven days. The Mimivirus was introduced to the host mouse by an intracardiac route (Khan, 2007). Mice were observed particularly for the thickening of alveoli walls because that implies that the mice were infected with pneumonia. Khan concluded that the mice presented thick alveoli walls, which supports the correlations of Mimivirus to pneumonia.

In another recent study with community acquired pneumonia patients, a serology detected Mimivirus using microimmunofluorescence assays. The study showed that community acquired patients with antibodies of Mimivirus and pneumonia was sent to hospitals more repeatedly, even after recovering. This was probably due to the lack of human antibodies to stop the Mimivirus and pneumonia. The study suggests that Mimivirus might be an agent of pneumonia (Standford University).

There is still very little known about the role of Mimivirus in the unknown cases of pneumonia. If Mimivirus does target tissues in the lungs, as evidenced by the thickening of mouse alveoli, then scientists may be able to understand the importance of these results better in the medical field.


Figure 4 (La Scola, 2005).. Mimivirus antigen is analyzed by (A) microimmunofluorescence assay, (B) Confocal microscope, (C) transmission electronic microscopy (TEM). (D) TEM .


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