Human parechoviruses (HPeV) belonging to the family Picornaviridae are widespread enteric pathogens and are associated with various clinical syndromes in human. At present, 16 HPeV genotypes (HPeV1-16) are known. There is no report on the detection of HPeVs in Central Europe. Aims: The aim of the retrospective study was to detect and characterize HPeVs using molecular methods in cell cultures with "enterovirus-like" cytophatic effect (CPE) archived between 1990 and 2004, in two virology laboratories, in Hungary. Materials and methods: In Laboratory I, fecal samples from children with symptoms of gastroenteritis under the age of 10 years were cultured as a previous routine diagnostic laboratory protocol for "enterovirus". Cell cultures indicating CPE were archived between 1990 and 2000. In Laboratory II, 2 fecal samples, a liquor and a nasopharyngeal aspirate were re-tested which contained an "enterovirus-like" virus in cell cultures and were positive by HPeV1 neutralization immunosera between 2000 and 2004. Specimens were tested retrospectively for HPeV by reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) method using 5'UTR conserved primers. Specific primers were designed to determine the HPeV structural region (VP0-VP3-VP1). Results: 9 of the 66 archived samples (9.1%) from Laboratory I and all the 4 samples from Laboratory II were found to be HPeV-positive. 10 samples were identified as HPeV1, 2 were HPeV4 and 1 could not be determined. 3 HPeV1 clusters were identified in Laboratory I according to the isolation date originated from years 1990/1991, 1992/1995 and 1998. HPeV1 was detected in clinical syndromes: gastroenteritis (in a 24-years-old adult), recurrent stomatitis aphtosa (in a 42-years-old adult), encephalitis and ataxia cerebellaris acuta in infants and children in Laboratory II. Conclusions: This is the first detection of HPeVs in Central Europe. Detection and genetic characterization of HPeV in available historical samples infected with previously unidentifiable agents with "enterovirus-like" cytopathogenic effect may help to understand the clinical importance and spectrum of the infections and the genetic diversity and evolution of these viruses.
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