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J Infect Dis. 2003 May 1;187(9):1365-76. Epub 2003 Apr 15.

Human herpesvirus 6 genome and antigen in acute multiple sclerosis lesions.

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Department of Neurology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


Evidence for a candidate multiple sclerosis (MS) virus, human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), was sought in biopsy specimens of acute lesions that presented clinically as cerebral tumors obtained from 5 patients. Histopathology, magnetic resonance imaging, and clinical course confirmed the diagnosis of MS in each case. A sensitive in situ polymerase chain reaction (ISPCR) method was used to detect HHV-6 genome, in conjunction with immunocytochemical staining (ICC) to detect viral and cellular antigens. ISPCR revealed numerous oligodendrocytes, lymphocytes, and microglia containing HHV-6 genome within all lesions, whereas ICC showed only the HHV-6 glycoprotein 116 antigen in some reactive astrocytes and microglia. High frequencies of neuroglial and inflammatory cells containing HHV-6 genome were present in acute-phase lesion tissue from patients who were free of the effects of chronic MS and had not been received immunomodulatory therapy for MS. The prevalence of HHV-6 genome-containing cells, including oligodendrocytes, in each lesion suggests that HHV-6 plays a role in the demyelinative pathogenesis of MS; the significance of the discrepant expression of viral antigens remains uncertain.

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