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Efficacy of antiviral compounds in human herpesvirus-6-infected glial cells.


The beta-herpesvirus human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) is becoming increasingly recognized as an important pathogen in immunocompromised patients, particularly in post bone marrow transplant (BMT). Reactivation of latent HHV-6 resulting in encephalitis has been reported in BMT and stem cell transplant (SCT) patients. The development of HHV-6 encephalitis can be a fatal complication, the frequency of which is increasing likely due to improved diagnosis with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of cerebrospinal fluid. There are currently no antiviral compounds approved for HHV-6, nor have any controlled clinical trials been conducted. The frequency and severity of HHV-6 encephalitis in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised patients necessitates studies on the usefulness of currently available anti-viral compounds. The authors compared the antiviral efficacy of four drugs currently used for cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, a beta-herpesvirus sharing homology with HHV-6. In HHV-6A- and HHV-6B-infected T cells, acyclovir, ganciclovir, foscarnet, and cidofovir exhibited antiviral activity consistent with that published in other studies. In HHV-6-infected human astrocytes (U251), however, only foscarnet and cidofovir exhibited antiviral activity and this effect was restricted to infection with HHV-6 variant A. In pathological brain sections from patients with neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, HHV-6 has been localized to glial cells. Determination of antiviral activity in human glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-positive astrocytes of currently used antiviral compounds is essential for potential treatment of HHV-6 and neurological disorders. Our data highlight the necessity for further study of antiviral compound in HHV-6-infected glial cells as well as the development of more selective compounds for HHV-6.