In a recent publication, investigators from the University of Massachusetts reported the first fine characterization of the CD4+ T cell response to HHV-6. This group identified seven CD4+ T cell epitopes that do not share significant homologies with other known human pathogens and designed immunological tools to track antigen-specific HHV-6 responses.
CD4+ T cells are central to the adaptive response, as they not only provide help for antibody production and for the generation of optimal CD8+ T cell responses, but also have direct effects against pathogens by the secretion of cytokines and killing of infected cells. The lack of tools to track cellular immune response to HHV-6 has been a major roadblock to the understanding of the role played by HHV-6 in human disease. However, several groups have recently uncovered more information that has begun to provide a window into the immune response to HHV-6 and also provide a basis for tracking HHV-6 cellular immune responses. A group from Baylor College of Medicine, for example, has just identified three new CD8+ T Cell epitopes, the first described for HHV-6. Furthermore, a group from Germany has identified a subset of CD8+ T cells that specifically recognize HHV-6B. Studies such as these are necessary for the future development of novel diagnostic assays and therapeutic approaches to help limit the clinical effects of HHV-6.
For more information, read the full paper entitled “Human CD4+ T Cell response to HHV-6.“