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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Steve Jacobson on HHV-6

Human herpesvirus-6 entry into the central nervous system through the olfactory pathway


Viruses have been implicated in the development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. Human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) is a neurotropic virus that has been associated with a wide variety of neurologic disorders, including encephalitis, mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. Currently, the route of HHV-6 entry into the CNS is unknown. Using autopsy specimens, we found that the frequency of HHV-6 DNA in the olfactory bulb/tract region was among the highest in the brain regions examined. Given this finding, we investigated whether HHV-6 may infect the CNS via the olfactory pathway. HHV-6 DNA was detected in a total of 52 of 126 (41.3%) nasal mucous samples, showing the nasal cavity is a reservoir for HHV-6. Furthermore, specialized olfactory-ensheathing glial cells located in the nasal cavity were demonstrated to support HHV-6 replication in vitro. Collectively, these results support HHV-6 utilization of the olfactory pathway as a route of entry into the CNS.
Erin Harbertsa
Karen Yaoa
Jillian E. Wohlera,
Dragan Maricc,
Joan Ohayona,
Robert Henkind, and
Steven Jacobson
Edited by Robert C. Gallo, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore, MD,
"Virologist Dharam Ablashi, who codiscovered HHV-6 and now is scientific director of the HHV-6 Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif., says the results may be just the tip of an iceberg. 'As research techniques improve,' he says, 'we may find that most neurological conditions are caused by viruses that enter the brain through the nasal passages.'"

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