Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Common virus may contribute to uncommon bone disease in children

09.03.2004


A common virus may play a major role in causing a painful disease of immune cells that attacks children’s bones, according to a new study. The research may eventually lead to an easier diagnosis and to more effective treatments of the disease, Langerhans cell histiocytosis.



Researchers found evidence of the virus, human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) in the tissues of 25 of 35 children with Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), compared to virus detected in only five of 19 children without LCH. The research team, led by John P. Dormans, M.D., director of Orthopaedic Surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, published its findings in the January/February issue of the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics.

Langerhans cells, found in the blood, play an active role in the immune system. An uncontrolled excess of Langerhans cells leads to LCH, with effects that range from a limited, spontaneously resolving illness to a chronic, life-threatening disease involving multiple organ systems. Although rare, occurring in approximately five children per million, LCH most commonly strikes bone, causing painful lesions or fractures.


"LCH is called the ’great imitator’ because it resembles particular bone cancers," said Dr. Dormans. "Fortunately, most children survive the disease these days." Most bone lesions resolve on their own without treatment. In other cases, surgeons successfully treat the disease by removing the abnormal area of bone.

However, successful treatment may elude physicians when LCH is chronic and affects multiple systems. Chemotherapy may succeed, at least temporarily, but only for 50 to 60 percent of patients. The cause of LCH remains unknown, and the Children’s Hospital researchers investigated its origins, with the goal of advancing treatments.

"It’s important to define whether LCH is primarily a tumor-like process or a reactive process, that is, one in which the immune system reacts to an infection or other insult," said Michael P. Glotzbecker, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the first author of the study. "Our research strengthens the case for a reaction to infection. Understanding the origin of the disease may help redefine the best treatment."

Previous researchers had proposed a role for HHV-6 infection in LCH, but the evidence was indirect, or was questioned on grounds of possible contamination. The current study was the first to identify the virus in the cytoplasm of immune cells called lymphocytes within LCH tissues. "Our findings suggest that after the HHV-6 virus infects lymphocytes, the body mounts an abnormal immune response resulting in the overproduction of Langerhans cells seen in LCH," said Mr. Glotzbecker. The researchers confirmed the presence of the virus with in situ hybridization, a testing technique.

The virus, HHV-6, is extremely common in children and adults, but usually is cleared out of the body or neutralized by a normally functioning immune system. In fact, the researchers found evidence of the virus in 5 of 18 tissue samples from children without LCH. "Because HHV-6 infection is so prevalent, but so few children get LCH, our results suggest that the virus interacts with some underlying predisposition to the disease," said Dr. Dormans.

"We don’t know what may cause a predisposition to this disease," continued Dr. Dormans, "but rethinking the cause of LCH may ultimately shift treatment away from chemotherapy toward antiviral treatments or approaches that modify the immune system." Much further research is necessary, he added, but in addition to guiding treatment, future research may lead to a simple blood test to diagnose the disease. "Such a test would be less invasive and certainly less painful for children than the tissue biopsy that we now must perform to diagnose LCH."


The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development provided support for part of the research. In addition to Dr. Dormans and Mr. Glotzbecker, the study’s third co-author is David F. Carpentieri, M.D., formerly a pathologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and now at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Founded in 1855 as the nation’s first pediatric hospital, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is ranked today as the best pediatric hospital in the nation by U.S.News & World Report and Child magazine. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children’s Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking second in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 430-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents from before birth through age 19. For more information, visit www.chop.edu.

Joey Marie McCool | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.chop.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule
12.12.2018 | UT Southwestern Medical Center

nachricht Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in the brain independently of one another
12.12.2018 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magic number colloidal clusters

13.12.2018 | Life Sciences

UNLV study unlocks clues to how planets form

13.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis

13.12.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>