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More MS news articles for June 2004

Infection with an endemic human herpesvirus disrupts critical glial precursor cell properties

J Neurosci. 2004 May 19;24(20):4875-83
Dietrich J, Blumberg BM, Roshal M, Baker JV, Hurley SD, Mayer-Proschel M, Mock DJ.
Department of Biomedical Genetics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.

Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), a common resident virus of the human CNS, has been implicated in both acute and chronic inflammatory--demyelinating diseases.

Although HHV-6 persists within the human CNS and has been described to infect mature oligodendrocytes, nothing is known about the susceptibility of glial precursors, the ancestors of myelin-producing oligodendrocytes, to viral infection.

We show that HHV-6 infects human glial precursor cells in vitro.

Active infection was demonstrated by both electron microscopy and expression of viral gene transcripts and proteins, with subsequent formation of cell syncytia.

Infection leads to alterations in cell morphology and impairment of cell replication but not increased cell death.

Infected cells showed decreased proliferation as measured by bromodeoxyuridine uptake, which was confirmed by blunting of the cell growth rate of infected cells compared with uninfected controls over time.

The detailed analysis using novel, fluorescent-labeled HHV-6A or HHV-6B reagents demonstrated strong G1/S phase inhibition in infected precursor cells.

Cell cycle arrest in HHV-6-infected cells was associated with a profound decrease in the expression of the glial progenitor cell marker A2B5 and a corresponding increase in the oligodendrocyte differentiation marker GalC.

These data demonstrate for the first time that infection of primary human glial precursor cells with a neurologically relevant human herpesvirus causes profound alterations of critical precursor cell properties.

In light of recent observations that repair of CNS demyelination is dependent on the generation of mature oligodendrocytes from the glial precursor cell pool, these findings may have broad implications for both the ineffective repair seen in demyelinating diseases and the disruption of normal glial maturation.