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Leukemia. 2002 Apr;16(4):716-9.

Antibody status to HHV-6 in children with leukaemia.

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Haartman Institute, Department of Virology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


Forty children with acute lymphoblastic (33) or myeloid leukaemia (seven) were studied for IgG and IgM antibodies and IgG avidity against human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) at the time of diagnosis, and compared with age-, sex- and season-matched children with various neurological diseases of suspected viral origin. Of the children with leukaemia, 97.5% had IgG antibodies and 40% IgM antibodies to HHV-6 compared with 92.3% and 7.7% of reference subjects (P = 0.005). A seronegative child with leukaemia seroconverted 3 weeks after the diagnosis. The avidity of IgG antibodies (based on the resistance to urea treatment) was high in all children with leukaemia. One reference child had HHV-6-specific IgG antibodies with low avidity, which together with his positive IgM indicated an acute infection. The presence of specific IgM antibodies in 40% of children with leukaemia and the high avidity of IgG suggest a reactivation or an inaproppriate primary response to HHV-6 infection. The results support the conclusion of the role of the HHV-6 infection at the onset of childhood leukaemia.

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