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Mult Scler. 2004 Aug;10(4):348-54.

Human herpesvirus 6 infects the central nervous system of multiple sclerosis patients in the early stages of the disease.

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Section of Microbiology, Department of Experimental and Diagnostic Medicine, University of Ferrara, Italy.


The presence and the replicative state of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) were evaluated in clinical samples from multiple sclerosis (MS) patients at the first time of MS diagnosis. HHV-6 variant B was present in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of 5/32 (15%) patients, but persisted with a latent infection. Viral sequences were present also in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), both free in the liquid (7/32, 22%) and latent in the cellular fraction (3/32, 9%), as shown by analysis of viral transcription. In these cases, variant A was detected. HHV-6 DNA sequences present in the CSF were associated to mature viral particles. In fact, in vitro infectious assays of CSF showed the presence of replication-competent virions. These results show that about 20% of MS patients have active foci of HHV-6 variant A infection in the early stages of the disease and suggest that viral replication takes place within the central nervous system.

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