Presence of Human Herpesvirus 6B in the Pancreas of Subjects With and Without Type 1 Diabetes

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Abstract

Objectives

The aims of this study were to investigate the presence of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV6) A and B in human pancreata and to search for signs of active infection in this organ of subjects with and without type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Methods

Pancreata from brain-dead organ donors with and without T1D were examined for the presence of HHV6 genomic sequences by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), transcripts by reverse transcriptase–PCR, and protein by immunohistochemistry. Quantitative PCR of isolated pancreatic islets and exocrine cell clusters was used to determine the intrapancreatic location of HHV6 DNA.

Results

Human herpesvirus 6B genomic sequences were present in 1 of 2 donors who died of acute-onset T1D, 4 of 6 donors with long-standing T1D, and 9 of 12 nondiabetic donors. Higher copy numbers of HHV6B DNA were present in isolated islets than in exocrine tissue from the same donors. No signs of active HHV6 transcription were found. Human herpesvirus 6A was not present in any tested pancreas.

Conclusions

The herein presented data demonstrate, for the first time, the presence of a latent HHV6B infection in the pancreas and islets of Langerhans. Whether this virus can contribute to disease in the pancreas remains to be determined.

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