Arch Neurol 2002 Jun;59(6):929-33
Alvarez-Lafuente R, Martin-Estefania C, de Las Heras V, Castrillo C, Picazo JJ, Varela de Seijas E, Gonzalez RA.
Servicio de Neurologia, Hospital Clinico San Carlos, C/Martin Lagos s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain.
Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) has been linked with multiple sclerosis (MS).
To determine HHV-6 viral load in patients with MS, and to analyze separately its 2 variants, HHV-6A and HHV-6B.
PATIENTS AND METHODS:
We analyzed 149 blood and serum samples; 103 were from patients with relapsing-remitting MS (33 during an MS relapse and 70 during remission), and 46 were from healthy blood donors. To determine whether the HHV-6 genome and its variants were present, we analyzed viral DNA using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, which has a sensitivity of 1 copy.
We found HHV-6 DNA in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells of 53.4% of patients and 30.4% of healthy blood donors; HHV-6A was found in 20.4% of patients and 4.4% of controls, and HHV-6B was found in 33.0% vs 26.1%, respectively. Mean viral load in both groups was 7.4 copies of HHV-6 per microgram of DNA (range, 1-15 copies). Analysis of serum samples showed that none of the healthy blood donors were positive for HHV-6, although 14.6% of patients were positive for the virus, specifically the HHV-6A variant. There was no difference between patients during remission or relapse. Mean viral load was 26.3 copies/microg microgram of DNA (range, 1-86 copies).
Despite the low viral load and the lack of clinical correlation, and given the biological characteristics of the virus, our results suggest that there was active HHV-6A infection in 14.6% of patients with MS. Further quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction studies will help us understand the clinical significance of such a low viral load.