A comprehensive, large-scale analysis has provided strong evidence of a causal association between HHV-6A and Alzheimer’s Disease. Not only was HHV-6A (and HHV-7) viral load found to be higher, but transcription of HHV-6A genes was also increased among AD patients, and this was observed across multiple brain regions and multiple cohorts. Importantly, host genes affected by HHV-6A were all associated with AD traits and risk genes.
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.
A retrospective analysis out of the Tokyo Metropolitan Cancer and Infectious Diseases Center reviewed 353 consecutive adult allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (allo-HSCT) cases and identified 17 cases of CNS infection post-transplant. As determined by PCR on cerebrospinal fluid, HHV-6 was found to be the causative agent in 6 cases, or 1.7% of all transplants.
Virologists led by Serge Barcy, PhD at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and University of Washington have identified a homolog for HHV-7 in pigtail macaques They were surprised to learn that it could be detected in the peripheral nerve ganglia, and hope to use their new animal model to explore how HHV-7 might play a role in demyelinating diseases.
Chinese investigators from Nanjing Medical University report that HHV-6A infection of astrocytes are associated with differences in gene expression that are also found in several CNS diseases including Alzheimer’s, glioma and multiple sclerosis. The investigators used gene ontology analysis to determine the biological processes, cellular components, and molecular functions of the differentially expressed genes and signalling pathways.
A group from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH, has reported finding Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and HHV-6 but no cytomegalovirus (CMV) in astrocytomas, a brain tumor comprising approximately one quarter of all gliomas diagnosed. The group used digital droplet PCR (ddPCR), a technique that is highly precise but less sensitive than nested PCR and immunohistochemistry, techniques that have been used in previous studies.
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