Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a severe autoimmune disorder characterized by vasculopathy and multi-organ fibrosis; its etiology and pathogenesis are still largely unknown. Herpesvirus infections, particularly by human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), have been suggested among triggers of the disease based on virological and immunological observations. However, the direct impact of HCMV and/or HHV-6 infection on cell fibrosis and apoptosis at the cell microenvironment level has not yet been clarified. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the effects of HCMV and HHV-6 infection on the induction of pro-fibrosis or pro-apoptosis conditions in primary human dermal fibroblasts, one of the relevant SSc target cells. The analysis, performed by microarray in in vitro HCMV-or HHV-6-infected vs. uninfected cells, using specific panels for the detection of the main cellular factors associated with fibrosis or apoptosis, showed that both viruses significantly modified the expression of at least 30 pro-fibrotic and 20 pro-apoptotic factors. Notably, several recognized pro-fibrotic factors were highly induced, and most of them were reported to be involved in vivo in the multifactorial and multistep pathogenic process of SSc, thus suggesting a potential role of both HCMV and HHV-6.
Impact of human cytomegalovirus and human herpesvirus 6 infection on the expression of factors associated with cell fibrosis and apoptosis: Clues for implication in systemic sclerosis development / Arcangeletti, M. -C.; D'accolti, M.; Maccari, C.; Soffritti, I.; De Conto, F.; Chezzi, C.; Calderaro, A.; Ferri, C.; Caselli, E.. - In: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES. - ISSN 1661-6596. - 21:17(2020), pp. 1-20. [10.3390/ijms21176397]