Saliva DNA load for HHV-6 (but not HHV-7) elevated in caregivers of patients with dementia

Investigators associated with a dementia center at Kobe University Hospital found that saliva HHV-6 DNA levels may serve as an objective marker for caregiver exhaustion. The saliva HHV-6 DNA levels in caregivers (log 3.04 copies/ ml) were significantly higher than in those of non-caregivers (2.78 copies/ml).

Caregiver burden and fatigue resulting from¬†caring for patients with dementia have been shown to increase caregivers’ mortality and risk of coronary heart disease. In this study, 44 caregivers were assessed using the Chalder Fatigue Scale. Caregivers had higher scores on the Chalder Fatigue Scale Physical and Mental indices than the non-caregivers. However, there was no correlation between the HHV-6 & 7 DNA levels and the Chalder Physical and Mental subscores in the caregivers.

It has been previously reported that HHV-6 is shed in saliva when physical and mental stress result in fatigue (Kondo 2007, Arvin 2007).

Caregiver HHV-6 DNA levels also correlated with the degree of disability of the dementia patients as measured by depressive symptoms, cognitive function, and daily living abilities.

For more information, read the full paper (Osaki 2016).