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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Sep 3;93(18):9788-92.

In vitro activation of human herpesviruses 6 and 7 from latency.

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  • 1Laboratory of Viral Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Human herpesviruses 6 and 7 (HHV-6 and HHV-7) are prevalent lymphotropic viruses that infect more than 80% of children at infancy or during early childhood. Infection ranges from asymptomatic to severe disease. HHV-6B causes exanthem subitum. The virus can be recovered from peripheral blood mononuclear cells during the acute phase of exanthem subitum, but the host remains latently infected throughout life. In immunocompromised patients undergoing kidney, liver, or bone marrow transplantation latent HHV-6B is reactivated, at times causing severe or fatal disease. Here, we describe the establishment of an in vitro system for reactivation of HHV-6B and HHV-7 from latency. HHV-7 is reactivated from latently infected peripheral blood mononuclear cells by T-cell activation. HHV-6B could not be reactivated under similar conditions; however, the latent HHV-6B could be recovered after the cells were infected with HHV-7. Once reactivated, the HHV-6B genomes became prominent and the HHV-7 disappeared. We conclude that HHV-7 can provide a transacting function(s) mediating HHV-6 reactivating from latency. Understanding the activation process is critical for the development of treatments to control the activation of latent viruses so as to avoid these sometimes life threatening infections in transplant recipients.

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