The effect of human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) on cultured human neural cells: Oligodendrocytes and microglia

Andrew V. Albright, Ehud Lavi, Jodi B. Black, Steven Goldberg, Michael J. O'Connor, Francisco González-Scarano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) is a betaherpesvirus that has been frequently associated with pediatric encephalitis. In 1995 Challoner et al reported that HHV-6 variant B (HHV-6B) was linked to multiple sclerosis (MS) due to the presence of viral DNA and antigen in the oligodendrocytes surrounding MS plaques. These findings led us to examine HHV-6B's in vitro tropism for primary neural cells. HIV-6B mediated cell-to-cell fusion in cultured adult oligodendroglia. Infection of oligodendrocytes was further confirmed by transmission electron microscopy (EM), which showed the presence of intracellular HHV-6 particles, and by PCR for HHV-6 DNA. However, the release of infectious virus was low or undetectable in multiple experiments. Microglia were also susceptible to infection by HHV-6B, as demonstrated by an antigen capture assay. We did not detect infection of a differentiated neuronal cell line (NT2D). Our findings suggest that HHV-6B infection of oligodendrocytes and/or microglia could potentially play a role in neuropathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-494
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of NeuroVirology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1998


  • HHV-6
  • Microglia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Oligodendrocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Virology


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