The findings of this study suggest that the herpesvirus HHV-6 could infect brain cells and cause cognitive and mood disorders.
(Human Herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is a set of two closely related herpes viruses known as HHV-6A and HHV-6B. HHV-6B infects nearly 100% of human beings, typically before the age of three and often results in fever, diarrhea, sometimes with a rash known as roseola.)
Prusty also explains that the results of the study contradict the belief that latent viruses — that is, viruses thought to be inactive, laying dormant in organs and tissues — are completely harmless.
“Studies like ours prove this thinking as wrong,” says Prusty, who points to the mounting evidence that shows that human herpesviruses may cause other neurological conditions.
For instance, a study that Medical News Today recently reported on found “strong evidence” to suggest that the human herpesviruses HHV-6A and HHV-7 may cause Alzheimer’s disease.
A much higher number of these viruses were found in the brains of people who had lived with the disease. Another study that we covered offered “the first population evidence for a causal link between herpes virus infection and Alzheimer’s disease.”
Next, Prusty and his colleagues plan to study the molecular mechanisms that could explain exactly how HHV-6A damages Purkinje cells, and how this could lead to psychiatric disorders.