Elizabeth Williams

National Institutes of Health, Maryland, United States

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Publications (4)23.66 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The alpha(4) integrin antagonist natalizumab was shown to be effective in patients with immune-mediated disorders but was unexpectedly associated with JC polyomavirus associated progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in two multiple sclerosis (MS) and one Crohn's disease patients. Impaired immune surveillance due to natalizumab treatment may have contributed to the JCV reactivation. As HHV-6 has been suggested to play a role in MS, we asked whether this virus could also have been reactivated during natalizumab therapy. Matched sera and CSF from a limited set of MS patients treated with and without natalizumab were examined for evidence of HHV-6. In addition, we also superinfected a persistent JC virus infected glial cell with HHV-6A to determine if JC virus can be increased. Elevated serum HHV6 IgG and HHV-6A DNA was detected in the CSF of a subset of patients but not controls. We confirmed that superinfection with HHV-6 of a JC virus infected glial cells increased expression of JCV. These results support the hypothesis that treatment with natalizumab may be associated with reduced immune surveillance resulting in reactivation of viruses associated with MS pathogenesis.
    PLoS ONE 02/2008; 3(4):e2028. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0002028 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) is a beta-herpesvirus with 90% seroprevalence that infects and establishes latency in the central nervous system. Two HHV-6 variants are known: HHV-6A and HHV-6B. Active infection or reactivation of HHV-6 in the brain is associated with neurological disorders, including epilepsy, encephalitis, and multiple sclerosis. In a preliminary study, we found HHV-6B DNA in resected brain tissue from patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) and have localized viral antigen to glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-positive glia in the same brain sections. We sought, first, to determine the extent of HHV-6 infection in brain material resected from MTLE and non-MTLE patients; and second, to establish in vitro primary astrocyte cultures from freshly resected brain material and determine expression of glutamate transporters. HHV-6B infection in astrocytes and brain specimens was investigated in resected brain material from MTLE and non-MTLE patients using PCR and immunofluorescence. HHV-6B viral DNA was detected by TaqMan PCR in brain resections from 11 of 16 (69%) additional patients with MTLE and from zero of seven (0%) additional patients without MTLE. All brain regions that tested positive by HHV-6B variant-specific TaqMan PCR were positive for viral DNA by nested PCR. Primary astrocytes were isolated and cultured from seven epilepsy brain resections and astrocyte purity was defined by GFAP reactivity. HHV-6 gp116/54/64 antigen was detected in primary cultured GFAP-positive astrocytes from resected tissue that was HHV-6 DNA positive-the first demonstration of an ex vivo HHV-6-infected astrocyte culture isolated from HHV-6-positive brain material. Previous work has shown that MTLE is related to glutamate transporter dysfunction. We infected astrocyte cultures in vitro with HHV-6 and found a marked decrease in glutamate transporter EAAT-2 expression. Overall, we have now detected HHV-6B in 15 of 24 patients with mesial temporal sclerosis/MTLE, in contrast to zero of 14 with other syndromes. Our results suggest a potential etiology and pathogenic mechanism for MTLE.
    PLoS Medicine 06/2007; 4(5):e180. DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040180 · 14.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: One-half of bone-marrow transplant (BMT) and stem-cell transplant recipients have reactivation of latent human herpesvirus (HHV)-6 2-4 weeks after transplant. Although the detection of viral DNA, RNA, and antigen in brain material confirmed active HHV-6 variant B infection, peak viral loads in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum occurred 2-4 weeks before death and decreased to low levels before or at autopsy. All autopsy samples consistently demonstrated HHV-6 active infection in the hippocampus. Astrocytic cells positive for viral antigen provided support for an HHV-6-specific tropism for hippocampal astrocytes. HHV-6 DNA in CSF and serum may not reflect the level of active viral infection in the brain after BMT.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 03/2007; 195(3):450-4. DOI:10.1086/510757 · 6.00 Impact Factor
  • Elizabeth Williams · Steven Jacobson ·
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    ABSTRACT: Studies during the 1960s were the first to discover that persistent viral infections can cause chronic neurological disease (Gilden, 2005). Since that time, many viruses have been positively associated with numerous neurological and chronic diseases. The characterization of virus in affected tissues, increased risk of disease in immunosuppressed patients, and response of patients to antiviral therapy all point investigators toward an infectious etiology of the disease. Multiple viruses have been shown to produce demyelination, and a temporal association of postinfectious encephalomyelitis has been shown after smallpox vaccination and measles, varicella, or rubella infection. Viruses are capable of establishing persistent, latent infection in host organisms leading to continuous viral replication over time without killing the host. Reactivation of latent virus can produce clinical disease, although the stimulus of reactivation has yet to be characterized.
    12/2006: pages 188-213;