Persistent HHV-6 infection in the liver is hard to detect from plasma samples and liver biopsies may miss spotty infections. Bile fluid may be the best method for detecting herpesviruses that impact the liver.
A team at Stanford reported that 48% of young children with “liver failure of unknown etiology” had high viral loads of HHV-6 in their liver tissues. As a result, Stanford has now instituted routine evaluation for HHV-6 in all children who present with liver failure.
A Japanese study found that unexplained fever and biliary atresia are associated with HHV-6B infection in pediatric transplant patients. 100% of seronegative infants developed a primary infection.
A team at University of Pittsburgh analyzed a large database of deep sequencing data from tumor and control tissues to look for viral sequences in 22 different cancers. They were surprised to find several herpesviruses in gastrointestinal cancers but not in control tissues.
HHV-6 is rarely identified as the cause of liver dysfunction in immunocompetent children, in part because HHV-6 is not included in routine testing, and HHV-6 infections can be highly localized to the liver. In this case, an alert team in Arizona identified HHV-6 by needle biopsy.
Investigators at Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center found that HHV-6B is the first DNA virus to reactivate at a median of 3 weeks, compared to CMV, EBV and Adenovirus at 5-6 weeks. HHV-6B also peaked rapidly, unlike other DNA viruses that took 3-6 weeks to reach peak viral load. HHV-6B reactivation resulted in increased mortality after 100 days.
HHV-6B induces unique, region-specific DNA hypomethylation, and findings suggest that the epigenetic modification may facilitate HHV-6B integration.
A group from Washington University used a bioinformatics system called VirusScan to analyze RNA-Seq data sets from 6,813 human tumors compared to those of adjacent normal tissue. Tumor samples representing 23 different forms of cancer were analyzed. HHV-6, EBV and CMV were found at significantly high levels in GI tract cancer tissue.
A group from Sapienza University in Rome has found a significantly elevated prevalence of HHV-6 and a higher viral load for EBV in the stomach and duodenum biopsies of patients with HIV compared to controls, suggesting that these viruses may contribute to the development of gastric cancer in immunocompromised patients.
A group from Finland’s Helsinki University Hospital has published preliminary evidence to suggest HHV-6B may be involved in the development of adenomatous gastrointestinal polyps
A research team from Riga Stradins University in Latvia has reported that the activation of HHV-6B and HHV-7 in patients with gastrointestinal cancer may lead to a marked decrease in lymphocytes and worsening of immunosuppression.