• cytomegalovirus;
  • human herpesvirus 6;
  • Epstein-Barr virus


The prevalence of herpesvirus DNA was examined in inflammatory bowel disease tissue. DNA was extracted from resection and biopsy specimens of the large intestine from patients with ulcerative colitis (n = 21), patients with Crohn's disease (n = 29), and patients with noninflammatory bowel disease (controls) (n = 21). The nested polymerase chain reaction was used to detect viral DNA using primer pairs specific for either cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1), human herpesvirus 6 (HHVG), varicella zoster virus (VZV), or Epstein Barr virus (EBV). HSV1 and VZV DNA were not detected in any of the tissue samples. There was a high prevalence of CMV (81%), HHVG (76%), and EBV (76%) DNA in ulcerative colitis tissue compared to Crohn's disease tissues (CMV 66%, HHVG 45%, EBV 55%). Control tissue had a relatively low frequency of CMV (29%) and EBV (19%) DNA but a prevalence of HHVG DNA similar to that of ulcerative colitis (86%). However, the simultaneous presence of HHVG and CMV and/or EBV DNA in ulcerative colitis tissue (76%) was much greater than in either Crohn's disease tissues (38%) or control tissue (29%) (P < 0.05). There was a low prevalence of CMV, HHV6, and EBV DNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from all patient groups. CMV and EBV are capable of reactivating HHV6: the high prevalence of coexistent HHV6 infection with either or both of these two viruses in ulcerative colitis tissue suggests that they may play a synergistic role in the pathogenesis of this disease. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.