Human herpesvirus 6 – a virus of autoimmunity?

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation



Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is an ever-present human pathogen with several intriguing characteristics – immunomodulatory properties, latency establishment, reactivation and persistence, and broad tissue tropism, leading researchers to investigate this virus’s role in autoimmunity development. Over the years, studies have accumulated evidence implicating HHV-6 in various autoimmune conditions – connective tissue, neurological and endocrine. This review summarizes the accumulated knowledge on HHV-6 and autoimmunity.


We searched PubMed for relevant studies regarding HHV-6 and various most common autoimmune conditions, e.g. multiple sclerosis, systemic sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune thyroiditis etc.


The reviewed studies demonstrated that HHV-6 DNA, mRNA, and HHV-6 specific antibodies could be more frequently detected in autoimmune disease patients in the case of several autoimmune conditions. Viral presence was found in autoimmunity-affected tissues - the nervous system in the case of multiple sclerosis, the thyroid gland in the case of autoimmune thyroiditis, synovial tissues in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, and most recently in the pancreas of diabetes patients. For some diseases (multiple sclerosis, autoimmune thyroiditis etc.) autoimmunity-triggering mechanisms have even been proposed.


Studies have demonstrated the relevance of HHV-6 in the context of autoimmunity - it has been detected in autoimmunity-affected tissues, it has been shown to infect autoimmunity-relevant cells, changing their functionality, or lysing the cells, and it has been shown to promote an inflammatory state and alter immune responses. Although much has been studied, more research is necessary to demonstrate the mechanisms and undoubtedly consolidate HHV-6 as a virus of autoimmunity.
Period29 Mar 2023
Event titleRSU International Research Conference 2023: Knowledge for Use in Practice: Knowledge for Use in Practice
Event typeConference
OrganiserRīga Stradiņš University
LocationRiga, LatviaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational