Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Everybody's Talking About Herpes Viruses!

Tara's even got a picture up of her infection. I have a similar picture of myself, except every one of my pox was covered in pink Calamine lotion. It didn't do much to help the itching, but it sure made me look worse!

Meanwhile, a gang of HIV/AIDS deniers are pestering her to explain why certain groups of AIDS infected people suffer different diseases than others. At least one answer to their question is a herpes virus.

The herpes viruses are a large group of viruses with over one hundred members that infect a variety of animal species, at least eight herpes viruses call the human species home. These viruses include such "old family friends" as varicella-zoster virus (chicken pox, and shingles) and herpes labialis/HSV-1 (cold sores on the lips and mouth).

Simplexvirus human herpesvirus 1, 2 (HSV-1, HSV-2)
Varicellovirus human herpesvirus 3 (VZV)

Cytomegalovirus human herpesvirus 5 (CMV)
Muromegalovirus mouse cytomegalovirus 1
Roseolovirus human herpesvirus 6, 7 (HHV-6, HHV-7)

Lymphocryptovirus human herpesvirus 4 (EBV)
Rhadinovirus human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8)

The herpes viruses are large (150-250 nm in diameter) and all consist of an envelope, tegument, nucleocapsid and a core particle containing the viral genome of up to 235 kilobases of DNA in a linear double-stranded genome that encodes over 50 viral proteins (compared to 11 for adenovirus= the common cold).

herpes virus nucleocapsid:
162 protein capsomeres in an
icosahedral array with 5:3:2 symmetry

A herpes virus with the envelope, acquired by pinching off a portion of the cellular and nuclear membranes, glycoproteins are visible extending through the membrane.

All of the herpes viruses produce a life-long latent infection in their native hosts. That's right, you never really got rid of the chicken pox after you were infected with chicken pox as a child, the varicella zoster virus retreated to the trigeminal and spinal nerve ganglia at the base of your spine. There, the virus established a latent infection waiting until some time after you turn fifty, or your immune system is compromised, so that it can reemerge as a painful case of shingles (herpes zoster)! Don't you love viruses? (I have it from a good authority working in a herpes virus lab that the degree of painfulness of shingles in the elderly is directly correlated to how sympathetic they were to their own children while they had the chicken pox. So treat those kids nice! Or, better yet, get them vaccinated.)

The herpes viruses replicate through rolling circle replication. I could write a thousand words describing it to you, or you can click through this flash media presentation.

(Here's the thousand words version if you're interested.)

So, you see it's very easy for a latent virus to begin replicating many new viral particles to establish an active infection. (This is one of the false claims I called Coraphor on last week, they claimed that by killing herpes viruses on the skin, the store of latent virus could be reduced, decreaseing the number of viruses able to cause subsequent infections.)

Now, on to the HIV/AIDS denialists. One of the favorite points of Peter Duesberg is that different populations of AIDS diagnosed individuals suffer from different AIDS defining disorders. An excellent example of which is the high incidence of Kaposi's Sarcoma among male homosexuals with AIDS in the US:

"However, the plethora of AIDS diseases was not, and
still is not randomly distributed even among the different
risk groups (table 2). For example, Kaposi’s sarcoma
was exclusively diagnosed in male homosexual risk
groups using nitrite inhalants and other psychoactive
drugs as aphrodisiacs
"the predominant and most distinctive AIDS
diseases in the US and Europe, Pneumocystis carinii
pneumonia and Kaposi’s sarcoma, are almost never diagnosed
in Africa"
"Moreover, the findings that
specific drugs, as for example nitrite inhalants, correlated
with specific AIDS diseases, such as immune suppression
and Kaposi’s sarcoma, directly support the lifestyle hypothesis."
"In addition, a fast-rising epidemic of volatile nitrite
inhalants, primarily among male homosexuals, was identified
in the US by Newell et al, Lauritsen and Wilson,
and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Lauritsen and
Wilson 1986; Haverkos and Dougherty 1988; Newell
et al 1988). It started in the late 1970s – immediately
preceding the male homosexual AIDS sub-epidemics of
Kaposi’s sarcomas and pneumonias..."

"Kaposi's Sarcoma is at least 20 times more common among homosexual than among non-homosexual AIDS patients."

So, homosexual AIDS patients in the US suffer from a rare form of cancer, Kaposi's Sarcoma, at a much higher rate than other groups of AIDS patients throughout the world. What could explain this discrepancy? Well, there is the possibility that the nitrite inhalants, "poppers", commonly used by homosexuals in the 80's to heighten orgasm could be weakening the immune system in some way that allows KS to occur, as Duesberg suggests. Or, it could be that a previously unknown herpes virus that can bring on Kaposi's Sarcoma, and is sexually transmitted, is being transmitted along with, before, or after transmission of HIV so that once HIV has weakened the immune system sufficiently, the herpes virus is now free to replicate at will producing Kaposi's Sarcoma. I know, it sounds like just as much hand-waving as Duesberg's doing, until the virus is actually discovered.
(Update: This link actually leads to the abstract for the Science paper where KSHV is first discovered. My apologies to Chang Y, Cesarman E, Pessin MS, Lee F, Culpepper J, Knowles DM, Moore PS.) And it actually does correlate well with Kaposi's Sarcoma not only in AIDS patients, but in other populations as well.

In 2002 Osmond et al. went back and examined samples collected from homosexual men in the San Francisco area in 1978-79 when the AIDS epidemic began. They found infection rates for Kaposi's Sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV/HHV-8) of 26.5% while HIV infection at the time was only 6.9%. In 1984-85 KSHV infection was relatively unchanged at 29.6%, while HIV infection had sky-rocketed to 49.5%! HIV infection dropped to 17.6% in 1992-93 while KSHV infection was 26.4% in 1995-96.

So, a herpes virus associated with the occurence of Kaposi's Sarcoma remained present at a fairly constant level in the male homosexual population of San Francisco at the same time that HIV went from a small number, to half the sample size and back down to less than the prevalence of KSHV. What could explain such a thing?

"The proportion of men practicing unprotected receptive anal intercourse with 1 or more partners declined from 54% to 11% during the 1984 through 1993 period (MHS) with similar though slightly higher values in the YMHS in 1992 and 1993; whereas for unprotected oral intercourse it ranged between 60% and 90% in the 1984 through 1996 period (MHS and YMHS). CONCLUSIONS: Infection with KSHV was already highly prevalent in homosexual men when the HIV epidemic began in San Francisco, and its prevalence has been maintained at a nearly constant level. Any declines in the incidence of Kaposi sarcoma do not appear to be caused by a decline in KSHV transmission."
Well, if both viruses HIV and KSHV are transmitted through different froms of sexual intercourse, HIV particularly through recpeptive anal intercourse, and KSHV particularly through receptive oral sex. (Yes, I do mean that the male recipient of oral sex is catching KSHV from the performing partner.) The static levels of KSHV infection, while HIV infection changed dramatically, can be explained by the differential use of condoms during anal and oral intercourse.

Thus, we have a test of the HIV as an infectious virus causes AIDS hypothesis, we also have a test of whether weakening of the immune system by HIV allows secondary infectious agents, that would normally be suppressed by a healthy immune system, to wreak havoc on the human body.

Score: Viruses (2), Duesberg and Denialists (0).

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Comments on "Everybody's Talking About Herpes Viruses!"


Anonymous Pamela said ... (2/23/2006 2:52 PM) : 

Very interesting post. I've been curious about where Kaposi's Sarcoma came from, and why so common among people with HIV some times and places and not others. Thanks for the nice clear explanation, of both why and how we know. Animalcules! What a good idea.


Blogger Pharma Bawd said ... (2/23/2006 8:32 PM) : 

Hey Pamela!

Glad you liked it, I see a few rough patches I need to clean up, it was late when I wrote it.

I read some of the stuff in the AIDS/HIV threads at Tara's blog and figured: I bet at least one other person doesn't, but would like to, know this...

Glad you found it!



Anonymous Zoot said ... (6/06/2006 1:20 PM) : 

Duesberg's comment shows a severe case of dumb:

"the predominant and most distinctive AIDS
diseases in the US and Europe, Pneumocystis carinii
pneumonia and Kaposi’s sarcoma, are almost never diagnosed in Africa"

Um-er...No, not quite. KS was the third most commonly reported cancer in registries in sub-Saharan Africa before the AIDS epidemic and now it is the most commonly reported African cancer because of AIDS. It turns out that Africa also has the highest rates of KSHV infection (70%). Sorry, Pete, try it again.


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Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10/28/2009 9:38 AM) : 

How about remembering two basic tenets of science before leaping to conclusions:

1) Correlation DOES NOT EQUAL Causation. [Just because two things happen or don't happen in relation to each other does not mean their relationship is causal. I bet over 95% of people that have AIDS have body hair. But this fact cannot lead us to assume that body hair causes AIDS, or that hairless people are immune to infection.]

2) I urge all readers to look up Koch's 3 Postulates. These are the three basic criteria of infectous disease that have been conveniently 'forgotten' by AIDS researchers and pharmaceutical companies. [In order to prove that a microbe is causing disease it must 1) Be present in all individuals who have the disease; 2) Be able to be grown in culture; and 3) Once cultivated, it must cause the same disease when injected into a living host.] I challenge anyone to find peer-reviewed scientific papers which show that the HIV virus meets these three criteria for infectious disease.


Anonymous Generic Lipitor said ... (11/20/2009 12:29 PM) : 

hello friend very interesting blog about Everybody's Talking About Herpes Viruses!!! I want to add some information about Herpes simplex (Ancient Greek: ἕρπης - herpes, lit. "creeping") is a viral disease caused by both herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). Infection with the herpes virus is categorized into one of several distinct disorders based on the site of infection. Oral herpes, the visible symptoms of which are colloquially called cold sores, infects the face and mouth. Oral herpes is the most common form of infection. Genital herpes, commonly known simply as herpes, is the second most common form of herpes. Other disorders such as herpetic whitlow, herpes gladiatorum, ocular herpes (keratitis), cerebral herpes infection encephalitis, Mollaret's meningitis, neonatal herpes, and possibly Bell's palsy are all caused by herpes simplex viruses.


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