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Herpes virus associated with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy

5 June, 2007

Researchers have reported strong evidence that mesial temploral lobe epilepsy (MTLE) is associated with a viral infection.

The researchers, led by Steve Jacobson from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, USA, found DNA from the virus, Human Herpes Virus 6B (HHV-6B) in specific regions of the brains of 11 of 16 patients with MTLE.

MTLE is a common, severe, type of epilepsy that usually begins in childhood.

HHV6
is usually acquired in early childhood - more than 90 per cent of the
general population can be shown to have been infected with the virus.
After infection, it can persist lifelong in some white blood cells,
salivary glands, and in the central nervous system.

Two
HHV-6 variants are known, HHV-6A and HHV-6B. Infection or reactivation
of either of them in the brain has already been shown to be associated
with neurological disorders, including epilepsy .

If these findings are confirmed in other groups of patients with this form of epilepsy, it may open up new avenues of therapy.