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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

Herpesvirus Decimates Immune-cell Soldiers


Science News (04/03/93) Vol. 143, No. 14, P. 215 (Fackelmann,

Scientists conducting test tube experiments have found that herpesvirus-6 can attack the human immune system's natural killer cells. This attack causes the killer cells to malfunction, diminishing an important component in the immune system's fight against diseases. Also, the herpesvirus-6 may be a factor in immune diseases, such as AIDS. In 1989, Paolo Lusso's research found that herpesvirus-6 attacks another white cell, the CD4 T-lymphocyte, which is the primary target of HIV. Lusso also found that herpesvirus-6 can kill natural killer cells. Scientists previously knew that the natural killer cells of patients infected with HIV do not work correctly. Lusso's research represents the first time scientists have indicated that natural killer cells are vulnerable to any kind of viral attack, according to Anthony L. Komaroff, a researcher with Harvard Medical School. Despite the test-tube findings, scientists are uncertain whether the same result occurs in the body. Lusso's team also found that herpesvirus-6 produces the CD4 receptor molecule that provides access for HIV. CD4 T-lymphocytes express this surface receptor, making them vulnerable to HIV's attack. Researchers concluded that herpesvirus-6 cells can exacerbate the affects of HIV.


Copyright © 1993 -CDC Prevention News Update, Publisher. All rights reserved to Information, Inc., Bethesda, MD. The CDC National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention provides the following information as a public service only. Providing synopses of key scientific articles and lay media reports on HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis does not constitute CDC endorsement. This daily update also includes information from CDC and other government agencies, such as background on Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) articles, fact sheets, press releases and announcements. Reproduction of this text is encouraged; however, copies may not be sold, and the CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update should be cited as the source of the information. Contact the sources of the articles abstracted below for full texts of the articles.

Information in this article was accurate in April 14, 1993. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.