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Decoy cells are epithelial cells containing intranuclear viral inclusions in urine. They are not specific for polyomavirus nephritis, but when present they may indicate polyoma infection of urinary tract.
These cells are easily identified in routine Papanicolaou stained urine cytology specimens, and can be identified in unstained sediment by phase-contrast microscopy.
In Papanicolaou stained cytology smears, Decoy cells are comet-shaped with large basophilic, amorphous, homogeneous, ground-glass like intranuclear inclusion bodies and a condensed rim of chromatin.
Singh HK, Bubendorf L, Mihatsch MJ, Drachenberg CB, Nickeleit V. (2006) Urine Cytology Findings of Polyomavirus Infections. In: Ahsan N. (eds) Polyomaviruses and Human Diseases. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol 577. Springer, New York, NY.
Yamada Y, Tsuchiya T and Deguchi T. Prediction of Early BK Virus Infection in Kidney Transplant Recipients by the Number of Cells with Intranuclear Inclusion Bodies (Decoy Cells). Transplant Direct. 2018 Feb 2;4(2):e340.
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