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J Med Virol. 1999 Dec;59(4):496-501.

Human herpesviruses 6 and 7 as potential pathogens after liver transplant: prospective comparison with the effect of cytomegalovirus.

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Department of Virology, Royal Free Hospital and Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, England.


Because cytomegalovirus (CMV) is an important opportunistic infection after liver transplant, we conducted a prospective study to see if the same applied to human herpesviruses (HHV)-6 and -7. We used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods optimised to detect active, not latent, infection and studied patients not receiving antiviral prophylaxis for CMV. Post-transplant, 536 blood samples were tested by PCR (median 7; range 4-50). Active infection with CMV was detected in 28/60 (47%), HHV-6 in 19/60 (32%), and HHV-7 in 29/60 (48%) of patients. The PCR-positive samples were tested by quantitative-competitive PCR to measure the virus load of each betaherpesvirus. The median peak virus load for CMV was significantly greater than that for HHV-6 or HHV-7. Detailed clinicopathological analyses for the whole population showed that CMV and HHV-6 were each significantly associated with biopsy-proven graft rejection. Individual case histories suggested that HHV-6 and HHV-7 may be the cause of some episodes of hepatitis and pyrexia. It is concluded that HHV-6 is a previously unrecognized contributor to the morbidity of liver transplantation, that HHV-7 may also be important and that both viruses should be included in the differential diagnosis of graft dysfunction.

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