The Impact of Co-Infections for Human Gammaherpesvirus Infection and Associated Pathologies

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International Journal of Molecular Sciences

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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

The two oncogenic human gammaherpesviruses Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) cause significant disease burden, particularly in immunosuppressed individuals. Both viruses display latent and lytic phases of their life cycle with different outcomes for their associated pathologies. The high prevalence of infectious diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), particularly HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and more recently, COVID-19, as well as their associated inflammatory responses, could potentially impact either virus’ infectious course. However, acute or lytically active EBV and/or KSHV infections often present with symptoms mimicking these predominant diseases leading to misdiagnosis or underdiagnosis of oncogenic herpesvirus-associated pathologies. EBV and/or KSHV infections are generally acquired early in life and remain latent until lytic reactivation is triggered by various stimuli. This review summarizes known associations between infectious agents prevalent in SSA and underlying EBV and/or KSHV infection. While presenting an overview of both viruses’ biphasic life cycles, this review aims to highlight the importance of co-infections in the correct identification of risk factors for and diagnoses of EBV- and/or KSHV-associated pathologies, particularly in SSA, where both oncogenic herpesviruses as well as other infectious agents are highly pervasive and can lead to substantial morbidity and mortality.