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Effects of invisible viruses

Viruses are pseudo-living organisms which inhabit and influence virtually every type of plant and animal cell. In some contexts, viral infection has obvious and profound consequences for the host organism, such as causing disease. However, many viral infections go completely unnoticed, with infections having essentially no phenotype or having an effect only long after the initial infection. Several examples of chronic, unnoticed viral infections affecting human health have been discovered. In several cases these long-term effects have been implicated in major, worldwide health problems.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of the most common human virus, being present in around 75% of adults worldwide. Once acquired, CMV infection persists lifelong in a dormant state. CMV infection is a known risk factor for high blood pressure and has been implicated in atherosclerosis, and people who test positive for human CMV infection are at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart attack later in life1.

Adenoviruses (Adv) are most well known as the cause of minor respiratory illnesses and common colds, but Adv infection has also been linked to obesity in both humans and animals. The specific serotype Adv36 can cause obesity in animal models, and Adv36 infection is associated with obesity in adults and children. In fact, the prevalence of Adv36 infection increases with body mass index2.

Human herpesvirus (HHV)-6 is a widespread virus, infecting most humans at an early age. A recent study identified HHV-6A as a potential cause for infertility in many women. In this study, HHV-6A was found in the uterine lining of infertile women but not in uteruses of mothers, suggesting that HHV-6A infection might be an important factor in unexplained female infertility3.

Many biomedical researchers believe that more links will be found between silent viral infections and human health. Viruses are highly efficient at carrying out their programmed activities within host cells, often with few observable side effects. In nature, this has made viruses into fascinating and diverse cellular engineers.

Cyagen Biosciences provides custom mouse and rat models, including transgenics, knockouts and knockins, and CRISPR/Cas or TALEN genome editing. We also have an extensive line of stem cells and cell culture reagents, as well as custom virus packaging. Our award-winning VectorBuilder platform allows custom design and cloning of DNA vectors for all of your experimental needs. We offer many viral vector systems such as lentivirus, adenovirus, and AAV, as well as regular plasmids, piggyBac vectors, and more!


  1. Cheng J, Ke Q, Jin Z, Wang H, Kocher O, Morgan JP, Zhang J, Crumpacker CS. Cytomegalovirus infection causes an increase of arterial blood pressure. PLoS Pathog. 2009 May;5(5):e1000427.
  2. Ponterio E, Gnessi L. Adenovirus 36 and Obesity: An Overview. Viruses. 2015 Jul 8;7(7):3719-40.
  3. Marci R, Gentili V, Bortolotti D, Lo Monte G, Caselli E, Bolzani S, Rotola A, Di Luca D, Rizzo R. Presence of HHV-6A in Endometrial Epithelial Cells from Women with Primary Unexplained Infertility. PLoS One. 2016 Jul 1;11(7):e0158304.

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