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Editorial
September 1998

Human Herpesviruses 6 and 7New Roles Yet to Be Discovered?

Arch Dermatol. 1998;134(9):1155-1157. doi:10.1001/archderm.134.9.1155

TO THINK that several years ago we thought we knew all there was to know about herpesviruses, and then 3 new members of this family were identified over the past decade: human herpesvirus (HHV) 6 ,7, and 8. Because HHV-6 and HHV-7 are similar, they might have similar consequences in human pathology. These HHVs were first isolated in 1986 and 1990, respectively, from the peripheral blood of patients with lymphoproliferative disorders or human immunodeficiency virus infection and normal levels of CD4+ T lymphocytes.1,2 They belong to the subfamily of Betaherpesvirinae and share strong genomic and phenotypic properties with human cytomegalovirus (CMV).3 Human herpesvirus 6 and 7 are ubiquitous in the human population, and approximately 90% of adults are seropositive for them.3 Replication of these viruses during the acute phase of infection occurs mainly in the CD4+ T lymphocytes. The CD4 molecule is part of the HHV-7 receptor but not the HHV-6 receptor.4 Human herpesvirus 6 remains latent in monocytes and macrophages and probably in the salivary glands. Human herpesvirus 6 DNA is detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of 10% to 90% of HHV-6–seropositive adults.5,6

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