Findings from International Research Group Published in ImmunoHorizons Show HHV-6 Connection to Energy Production Problems in ME/CFS
In 2016, Bhupesh Prusty, PhD, a scientist at Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg in Germany, received pilot funding from the Solve M.E. Ramsay Research Grant Program to study the possible cause of dysfunctional mitochondria (energy producers in cells) in ME/CFS.
Dr. Prusty collaborated with an international group of researchers that included Robert Naviaux, MD, PhD, from UC San Diego School of Medicine (who has advanced a theory of “Cell Danger Response” in ME/CFS) and Carmen Scheibenbogen, MD, PhD, from Charité University in Berlin. The research team focused on Human Herpes Virus 6 (HHV-6), which can lie dormant (known as viral latency) in human hosts by integrating with our chromosomes.
The researchers took culture medium from cells in a state of HHV-6 reactivation and applied it to a culture of healthy cells. They observed changes to mitochondrial structures associated with a low metabolic state. The same structural changes were also found when healthy cells were grown in a culture medium containing serum from ME/CFS patients. Removal of the ME/CFS patients’ serum from the cells resulted in the mitochondria exhibiting signs of proper functioning.
The results of this study suggest that even with a low number of copies of the virus in the blood, HHV-6 infected or reactivated cells might still impact energy production in cells of people with ME/CFS. The authors believe this mechanism might be involved across cases of ME/CFS triggered by different viruses.
The availability of the pilot funding from the Ramsay Grant Program was key to Dr. Prusty getting involved in ME/CFS, and he has deepened that involvement significantly over the last few years; authoring a review paper on chronic viral infection in ME/CFS and presenting at the April 2019 NIH ME/CFS conference.
→ Want to know more?
Check out the full study here.
Read more about this work on Dr. Prusty’s Ramsay Project page here.
Take a deep dive on Cort Johnson’s Health Rising blog here.
Watch Dr. Prusty’s presentation at the 2019 NIH ME/CFS Conference here, starting at 03:05:08