Human herpesvirus-6 in patients with Crohn’s disease


Radhakrishna Sura, 1803 Building, Washington Street, Midland, MI 48674, USA. e-mail:;


Sura R, Gavrilov B, Flamand L, Ablashi D, Cartun R, Colombel J-F, Van Kruiningen HJ. Human herpesvirus-6 in patients with Crohn’s disease. APMIS 2010; 118: 394–400.

Human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) infections are usually asymptomatic reactivations in immunocompetent persons, but may be severe in immunocompromised individuals. Although primary HHV-6 infection is mainly associated with roseola infantum, it has also been associated with gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and nausea in children. In this study, we investigated the potential role of HHV-6 in Crohn’s disease (CD). Evidence of HHV-6 infection in CD patients and controls was determined by immunohistochemistry (IHC), polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). Fifty-one tissue blocks from 23 CD patients and 20 tissue blocks from 20 controls were examined. Quantitativereal-time PCR was used to assess HHV-6 viral loads. IHC, PCR and qPCR indicated the presence of HHV-6 in both CD patients and controls. Immunohistochemistry of tissues revealed an almost equal frequency and distribution of positive cells; however, non-specific immunostaining confounded interpretation. HHV-6 DNA was detected in 52% (12/23) of CD and 55% (11/20) of control patients by PCR and in 69.5% (16/23) of CD cases and 65% (13/20) of controls by qPCR. Mean viral load in intestinal tissues was similar in CD and controls (33.4 and 57.9 copies μg−1 DNA, respectively). Finding equal evidence of HHV-6 in patients and controls by multiple methods suggests that this virus is ubiquitous and probably not a cause of CD.