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J Clin Virol. 2000 May;16(3):159-78.

The HHV6 paradox: ubiquitous commensal or insidious pathogen? A two-step in situ PCR approach.

Author information

1
VA Bio-Medical Research Institute, Building 7, East Orange VA Medical Center, 385 Tremont Avenue, East Orange, NJ, USA. bbrl@aol.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are demyelinative diseases of the central nervous system (CNS). PML occurs mostly in individuals with AIDS-impaired immunity and is thought to be caused by JC polyoma virus (JCV). In MS a neurotrophic virus trigger is suspected, but the precise etiology remains unknown. Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV6) is a ubiquitous, commensal and usually benign beta-herpesvirus. Some researchers have found evidence for HHV6 infection in MS plaques and sera. We recently demonstrated a high frequency of cells containing HHV6 genome in PML lesions, as well as co-infection of oligodendrocytes by JCV and HHV6. This suggests that HHV6 may be a co-factor in the etiology of PML, and raises questions about its role in other demyelinative diseases.

OBJECTIVES:

To determine the prevalence and cellular localization of HHV6, JCV and HIV-1 infected cells in PML, MS, AIDS and control CNS tissues, and their potential relationship with disease.

STUDY DESIGN:

An unconventional, sensitive two-step in situ polymerase chain reaction (ISPCR) procedure was used to amplify and detect HHV6, JCV and HIV-1 genomic DNAs in formalin fixed, paraffin-embedded archival CNS tissues. HHV6, JCV and HIV-1 gene expression was detected by ICC for HHV6 p41 and gp101, JCV large T, and HIV-1 p24 gag and NEF proteins.

RESULTS:

A high frequency of HHV6 genome was consistently detected in both PML and MS white matter lesional cells; a peri-lesional concentration was notable. HHV6 was found mainly in oligodendrocytes, but neurons were also infected. HHV6 was present in larger amounts than JCV in PML lesions, while more HIV-1 than HHV6 was present in AIDS. Variable amounts of HHV6 genome were detected in normal, AIDS and other control brains; the frequency of infected cells tended to increase with patient age.

CONCLUSIONS:

High concentrations of HHV6 genome in association with PML and MS lesions, open the possibility that HHV6 activation may play a role in the pathogenesis of these demyelinative diseases.

PMID:
10738136
DOI:
10.1016/s1386-6532(99)00084-0
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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