|HHV-6 Infections: Observations Based on Published Medical Data - Major Findings and Implications
By Alan Cocchetto
Though some people may think otherwise, there is much known about HHV-6 and ME/CFIDS - perhaps more than you thought! In this article, I will discuss some of these points and observations that I have made based on the scientific data available thus far. Let me begin by mentioning two gems worth reading. The first is the latest US Patent on HHV-6 from Dr. Robert Gallo and his former team at the National Cancer Institute. (US Patent # 6,018,027 issued 1/25/2000) The second is a publication by Dr. Donald Carrigan and Dr. Konstance Knox titled "In-Vitro Suppression of Bone Marrow Progenitor Cell Differentiation by Human Herpesvirus-6 Infections" from 1992. Why are these important and what can be learned here? First, you have to understand that HHV-6 infection acts by way of a 'plug and socket' arrangement or mechanism. What do I mean by this? Well, HHV-6 (acting as the 'plug') looks for receptors (the 'socket') in the body to fuse with or bind to. In the case of HHV-6, this receptor is given the name CXCR4. In scientific terms, CXCR4 is known as a chemokine and chemokines have specific cellular functions. Anyway, HHV-6 'plugs' itself into this 'socket' receptor and begins its replicating journey. Simple enough in concept! What is important here is that this CXCR4 receptor is found on T-cells, neurons in the brain and nervous system, and in the bone marrow. So that is where you see the signs of the infection and this is, as you will learn, a major assault on the body's defense system! Now, let's look briefly at the two papers mentioned above. First, Gallo states that HHV-6 infection directly targets neurons and megakaryocytes. Neuronal cells are found in the brain, central, and peripheral nervous systems. So that agrees with what has been found scientifically regarding the CXCR4 receptors. His work implicates HHV-6 in the direct destruction of neuronal cells! Next, megakaryocytes are the precursor cells of platelets necessary for coagulation. This should not come as a surprise either because of David Berg's recent work (Hemex Labs) on coagulopathies in ME/CFIDS. Returning to HHV-6's ability to target neuronal cells, as in nervous system-brain infection, should hardly come as a surprise. Just look at the brain dysfunction and neuropathies associated with ME/CFIDS, MS, and AIDS - all of these pathologies associated with HHV-6 infection! More and more medically published data points to a very important 'ring leader' regarding neurotoxicity and neuronal death. In AIDS, MS, herpes encephalitis, Huntington's, Parkinson's, and other illnesses, the target is a severe neurotoxin called quinolinic acid. Quinolinic acid functions as a neuronal excitotoxin poisoning neurons. Although quinolinic acid has not been measured in ME/CFIDS patients with HHV-6 infections yet, we are confident, based on the medical facts, that it will be found at high levels. The National CFIDS Foundation has contacted several top researchers to pursue this avenue of scientific inquiry since this has not been done and since the data is exceedingly strong here. Interestingly, neopterin level, which has been measured in ME/CFIDS patients and found to be much higher than normal, has a relationship to quinolinic acid and neuronal cell excitation. Why is this important? Well, let's just say that research exists that shows when quinolinic acid is injected into either the brain or the nervous system - lesions result! In my mind, this is one of the major targets associated with HHV-6 infections and the resulting neurodegenerative process. In the past, much has been reported on the fact that HHV-6 can directly target and kill T-cells. This too is in agreement with the fact that key receptors, such as CXCR4, are found in these cell types and therefore can be directly infected by HHV-6. This should also come as no surprise. Heck, anyone who has kept track of their lymphocyte profiles over time, using CD4's and CD8's as a measurement tool, will easily recognize the losses here. What about Knox and Carrigan's publication on the suppressive effects of HHV-6 in the bone marrow? (J Infect Dis, 1992 May, 165(5), ‚In vitro suppression of bone marrow progenitor cell differentiation by human herpesvirus 6 infection‚) What is the implication of this work? Well, let me first explain that viral infections, especially HHV-6 which can be chronic and so destructive, can lead to alteration and up-regulation of specific cell expression. Does ME/CFIDS do this? You bet! ME/CFIDS has been shown to up-regulate the expression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) and transforming growth factor (TGF-beta). Interestingly, HIV infection does the same thing. The important note here is that the overexpression of either of these factors, over a long time period, leads to suppression of hematopoietic progenitor cells which leads to alterations in the bone marrow's ability to 'keep up with the infection!' This has consequences due to the fact that if the marrow's ability to generate more cells is impaired, the virus is then able to increase its replication and is subsequently able to get the 'upper hand.' Knox and Carrigan's in-vitro work along with Dr. Paolo Lusso's in-vivo work, done in Italy, both highlight this problem. HHV-6 suppresses cells in the bone marrow's stromal layer thus altering the body's ability to replenish its cell supply-line. And since all cells in the human body are ultimately tied to the marrow, this can become a serious life threatening problem. Of course, CXCR4 is the receptor that is found in the bone marrow! So this is another major target of HHV-6. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize some very important implications here. Major targets of HHV-6 infection are T-cells, neuronal cells of the brain, central, and peripheral nervous systems, and the bone-marrow. Doctors listen up here! Any virus capable of directly infecting and thus altering the function of these types of cells cannot be good for you! Is it any wonder why many of us are so very ill and we are so dysfunctional. It is about time that doctor's take note and find out these critical facts for themselves by checking on the published literature via Medline since the CDC and the NIH certainly aren't going to tell the whole story yet! Lastly, what are my recommendations at this point? We are gaining knowledge very rapidly at this time so please hang in there! Knowledge is power and I believe this will not only allow us to redefine this illness but will be providing important answers to this very difficult problem from a truly therapeutic perspective. Please see the accompanying research update on HHV-6!