Mameli, Giuseppe and Astone, Vito and Arru, Giannina and Marconi, Silvia and Lovato, Laura and Serra, Caterina and Sotgiu, Stefano and Bonetti, Bruno and Dolei, Antonina (2007) Brains and peripheral blood mononuclear cells of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients hyperexpress MS-associated retrovirus/HERV-W endogenous retrovirus, but not human herpesvirus 6. Journal of General Virology, Vol. 88 (1), p. 264-274. eISSN 1465-2099. Article.
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Multiple sclerosis (MS)-associated retrovirus (MSRV)/HERV-W (human endogenous retrovirus W) and Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) are the two most studied (and discussed) viruses as environmental co-factors that trigger MS immunopathological phenomena. Autopsied brain tissues from MS patients and controls and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were analysed. Quantitative RT-PCR and PCR with primers specific for MSRV/HERV-W env and pol and HHV-6 U94/rep and DNA-pol were used to determine virus copy numbers. Brain sections were immunostained with HERV-W env-specific monoclonal antibody to detect the viral protein. All brains expressed MSRV/HERV-W env and pol genes. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that cerebral MSRV/HERV-W-related env sequences, plasmatic MSRV, HERV-W and ERVWE1 (syncytin) are related closely. Accumulation of MSRV/HERV-W-specific RNAs was significantly greater in MS brains than in controls (P=0.014 vs healthy controls; P=0.006 vs pathological controls). By immunohistochemistry, no HERV-W env protein was detected in control brains, whereas it was upregulated within MS plaques and correlated with the extent of active demyelination and inflammation. No HHV-6-specific RNAs were detected in brains of MS patients; one healthy control had latent HHV-6 and one pathological control had replicating HHV-6. At the PBMC level, all MS patients expressed MSRV/HERV-W env at higher copy numbers than did controls (P=0.00003). Similar HHV-6 presence was found in MS patients and healthy individuals; only one MS patient had replicating HHV-6. This report, the first to study both MSRV/HERV-W and HHV-6, indicates that MSRV/HERV-W is expressed actively in human brain and activated strongly in MS patients, whilst there are no significant differences between these MS patients and controls for HHV-6 presence/replication at the brain or PBMC level.
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