Marmosets infected with HHV-6A/B intranasally were initially asymptomatic but later developed significantly accelerated disease and died in a shorter period of time. HHV-6 proteins were found at high levels in the brain lesions.
Chinese investigators found a high prevalence of HHV-6 and Epstein Barr virus in the brain tissues of children with Rasmussen’s encephalitis but in none of the controls. There was a significant association between viral presence and brain atrophy, raising a strong suspicion for the involvement of both viruses.
NINDS investigators found that children with febrile seizures have elevated inflammatory cytokines compared to healthy controls and children with fever. One of those cytokines, Il-1β, correlated with HHV-6 saliva viral load.
Investigators at Mt Sinai used “big data” models to determine that the genes involved with fighting Alzheimer’s are the same ones that fight virus. They found HHV-6A and HHV-7 to be more abundant in Alzheimer’s brains, and singled out HHV6-A as a key modulator of the genes involved in amyloidosis and neuronal death.
Researchers at Harvard studied how neurons responded to the presence of herpesviruses HSV1 and HHV-6, and found that they rapidly induce amyloid plaque production within 24 to 48 hours.
The autopsy of an infant with HHV-6B encephalitis showed a 4-5 fold increase in the viral load of the hippocampus compared to other parts of the brain. Neurons, oligodendrocytes and vascular endothelial cells were infected, but not astrocytes or microglia.
Investigators in Japan studied 145 patients who developed HHV-6 encephalitis. At 100 days after transplantation, the overall survival rate was just 58.3%, compared with 80.5% for patients who did not develop encephalitis. High-dose antiviral therapy was shown to mitigate high mortality rates in these patients.
A group at University of Rochester demonstrated that the HHV-6A latency gene, U94, inhibits migration of cells involved in myelin repair. Inefficient myelin repair is associated with progression MS, and the ability of HHV-6A to impede this process suggests that it could be involved in the progression of MS, and raises questions about the virus’s role in other chronic demyelinating diseases.
Retrospective analysis of transplant patients revealed that low serum sodium levels are associated with HHV-6 encephalitis, but not HHV-6 myelitis. Low sodium is a possible marker for HHV-6 encephalitis post-transplantation.
Antibodies to HHV-6 and VZV dUTPases were significantly elevated in Gulf War Illness patients compared to controls, and EBV dUTPase antibodies were elevated in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients.
HHV-6B induces unique, region-specific DNA hypomethylation, and findings suggest that the epigenetic modification may facilitate HHV-6B integration.
Investigators from Uppsala University in Sweden found that HHV-6 IgG reactivity was significantly lower in Alzheimer’s Disease patients compared to controls. The authors suggest reduced immunity may be one reason why past studies have found increased levels of HHV-6 DNA in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients compared to controls.
HHV-6 has been linked in numerous studies to multiple sclerosis. Now, investigators at the University of British Columbia have published new data suggesting that HHV-6A may be a key player in the development of multiple sclerosis. The investigators propose that the viral protein U24 may dysregulate myelination.
Australian investigators studied 143 young children with febrile seizures for signs of viral infection and found that HHV-6 was the fifth most common virus after rhinovirus (22%), enterovirus (20%), adenovirus (21%) and influenza (13%). Overall, a virus was found in 71% of cases. Virus found in complex seizures was associated with HHV-6 (42%) or influenza (41%).
A new point-of-care assay from bioMérieux can simultaneously and rapidly detect 14 pathogens typically found in encephalitis. The machine is designed to be at the clinic or in the emergency room and can be operated by unskilled technicians. In a study of 1,560 immunocompetent patient samples, a total of 1.35% were positive for HHV-6, or about twice the expected rate of 0.8% found with the inherited chromosomally integrated HHV-6.
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