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Blood. 2011 May 12;117(19):5243-9. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-10-316083. Epub 2011 Mar 9.

HHV-6 reactivation and its effect on delirium and cognitive functioning in hematopoietic cell transplantation recipients.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.


Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is detected in the plasma of approximately 40% of patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) and sporadically causes encephalitis in this population. The effect of HHV-6 reactivation on central nervous system function has not been fully characterized. This prospective study aimed to evaluate associations between HHV-6 reactivation and central nervous system dysfunction after allogeneic HCT. Patients were enrolled before HCT. Plasma samples were tested for HHV-6 at baseline and twice weekly after transplantation until day 84. Delirium was assessed at baseline, 3 times weekly until day 56, and weekly on days 56 to 84 using a validated instrument. Neurocognitive testing was performed at baseline and at approximately day 84. HHV-6 was detected in 111 (35%) of the 315 included patients. Patients with HHV-6 were more likely to develop delirium (adjusted odds ratio = 2.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-5.3) and demonstrate neurocognitive decline (adjusted odds ratio = 2.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-6.2) in the first 84 days after HCT. Cord blood and unrelated transplantation increased risk of HHV-6 reactivation. These data provide the basis to conduct a randomized clinical trial to determine whether prevention of HHV-6 reactivation will reduce neurocognitive morbidity in HCT recipients.

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