Is Human Herpesvirus-6 a trigger for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Journal: Journal of Clinical Virology, Vol. 37, Supplement I, December 2006, pp. S39-S46. [Supplement sponsored by HHV-6 Foundation. E-Publication Jan 2007. Full text is available for a fee at ] Authors and affiliations: Anthony L. Komaroff. Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. [E-mail: ]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is an illness currently defined entirely by a combination of non-specific symptoms. Despite this subjective definition, CFS is associated with objective underlying biological abnormalities, particularly involving the nervous system and immune system.

Most studies have found that active infection with human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) – a neurotropic, gliotropic and immunotropic virus – is present more often in patients with CFS than in healthy control and disease comparison subjects, yet it is not found in all patients at the time of testing. Moreover, HHV-6 has been associated with many of the neurological and immunological findings in patients with CFS.

Finally, CFS, multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders share some clinical and laboratory features and, like CFS, the latter two disorders also are being associated increasingly with active HHV-6 infection. Therefore, it is plausible that active infection with HHV-6 may trigger and perpetuate CFS in a subset of patients.

Keywords: Human herpesvirus-6; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Human; Review

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