A new study has found that two human herpesviruses: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), previously only proven to infect B cells, can also infect neurons.
For years there has been indirect evidence that gammaherpesviruses like EBV and KSHV could infect nervous tissue. For example, EBV viruses have been found in the cerebrospinal fluid and brain tissue of patients with Alzheimer’s multiple sclerosis. EBV has also been tied to an increased risk of developing MS.
Researchers tagged EBV and KSHV with green fluorescent protein (GFP) and observed them infecting neuroblastoma cells (neurons derived from a cancer cell line) in vitro. These findings offer further evidence that these viruses may be associated with the neurological pathologies involved in these diseases.
The researchers also found that acyclovir was effective at inhibiting the production of virus from neuronal cells.
EBV has also been associated with an increased risk of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.