Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a multifactorial disorder with many possible triggers. Human herpesvirus (HHV)-6 and HHV-7 are two infectious triggers for which evidence has been growing. To understand possible causative role of HHV-6 in ME/CFS, metabolic and antiviral phenotypes of U2-OS cells were studied with and without chromosomally integrated HHV-6 and with or without virus reactivation using the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin-A. Proteomic analysis was conducted by pulsed stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture analysis. Antiviral properties that were induced by HHV-6 transactivation were studied in virus-naive A549 cells challenged by infection with influenza-A (H1N1) or HSV-1. Mitochondria were fragmented and 1-carbon metabolism, dUTPase, and thymidylate synthase were strongly induced by HHV-6 reactivation, whereas superoxide dismutase 2 and proteins required for mitochondrial oxidation of fatty acid, amino acid, and glucose metabolism, including pyruvate dehydrogenase, were strongly inhibited. Adoptive transfer of U2-OS cell supernatants after reactivation of HHV-6A led to an antiviral state in A549 cells that prevented superinfection with influenza-A and HSV-1. Adoptive transfer of serum from 10 patients with ME/CFS produced a similar fragmentation of mitochondria and the associated antiviral state in the A549 cell assay. In conclusion, HHV-6 reactivation in ME/CFS patients activates a multisystem, proinflammatory, cell danger response that protects against certain RNA and DNA virus infections but comes at the cost of mitochondrial fragmentation and severely compromised energy metabolism.
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