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J Clin Virol. 2005 Jan;32(1):29-32.

Detection of herpes simplex virus, cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus DNA in atherosclerotic plaques and in unaffected bypass grafts.

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Department of Clinical Chemistry and Microbiology, University of Damascus, Syria.



Herpes virus infections are suspected to be involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.


Viral DNA of herpes simplex virus (HSV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) was analyzed by real-time PCR on 48 biopsies from atherosclerotic plaques extracted by end-arterectomy (46 coronary arteries, 2 carotid arteries), and in tissue from non-atherosclerosis vessels from the same patient as controls (23 internal mammary arteries, 43 saphenous veins).


HSV-1 DNA was detected significantly more frequently in plaques (35%) than in control veins (9%, P = 0.006). However, the frequency of HSV-1 DNA detection in the internal mammary artery grafts was as high as in plaques (22%, P = 0.28). CMV and EBV DNA were exclusively found in plaques but not in controls, with 10% for CMV (P = 0.06 versus veins, P = 0.17 versus graft arteries) and 2% for EBV (P = 1.0), respectively. HSV-2 was neither detected in plaques nor in controls. Herpes viral DNA was significantly associated only with arterial hypertension but not with other classical risk factors (P = 0.02), in accordance with the hypothesis that herpes viral infection may alter the vessel wall.


We conclude that herpes viral infections may have a role in atherosclerosis and that the presence of herpes viral DNA in the grafts used for bypass surgery might constitute a potential risk for atherosclerosis or restenosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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