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J Med Virol. 1999 Mar;57(3):278-82.

Interactions between beta-herpesviruses and human immunodeficiency virus in vivo: evidence for increased human immunodeficiency viral load in the presence of human herpesvirus 6.

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Department of Virology, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London, England.


In vitro, beta-herpesviruses can stimulate or inhibit HIV replication under particular circumstances. In order to investigate the effects of beta-herpesvirus infection on HIV replication and vice versa at an organ level, we determined the quantitative relationships between cytomegalovirus (CMV), human herpesviruses (HHV) 6 and 7, and HIV-1 proviral DNA using quantitative competitive PCR methods in 141 organs collected at autopsy from 11 AIDS patients. The presence of HHV-6 DNA in an organ was significantly associated with elevated HIV-1 proviral DNA (difference in HIV median loads, 1.3 log10 genomes; P = 0.004). Consistent with this, there was a trend for the presence of HIV-1 proviral DNA to be associated with an elevated HHV-6 load (0.44 log10 difference; P = 0.07). In contrast, there were no significant differences between viral loads in the combinations of either CMV or HHV-7 with HIV-1 proviral DNA load. Pairwise combinations of the beta-herpesviruses revealed that the quantity of HHV-7 was increased in the presence of HHV-6 (difference in median loads, 1.3 log10; P = 0.001) and the quantity of HHV-6 was increased in the presence of HHV-7 (difference in median loads, 0.7 log10; P=0.002). These results demonstrate that the presence of HHV-6 in an organ is significantly associated with an elevated HIV-1 proviral load and have implications for understanding HIV pathogenesis in the human host and the role that beta-herpesviruses, especially HHV-6, might play as cofactors in the HIV disease process.

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