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Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2008 Jul;14(7):831-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2008.04.016.

Human herpes virus 6 plasma DNA positivity after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in children: an important risk factor for clinical outcome.

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Department of Immunology/Haematology and BMT, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Human herpes virus 6 (HHV6) is known to reactivate after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), and has been suggested to be associated with severe clinical manifestations in adults. The clinical significance in children remains unclear. We investigated the incidence of HHV6 reactivation in relation to HSCT-associated morbidity and mortality in children. Between January 2004 and May 2006, 58 pediatric patients, median age 7.6 years (range: 0.1-18.1 years), received their first allogeneic HSCT. After HSCT, HHV6, Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and adenovirus (AdV)-plasma loads were weekly measured by quantitative PCR. Clinical features, engraftment, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), and HSCT-associated mortality and morbidity were monitored. HHV6 reactivations were classified in group I (no reactivation), group II (loads <1000 cp/mL) and group III (loads >1000 cp/mL). CMV, EBV, Herpes Simpex Virus, Varicella Zoster Virus, and AdV-reactivations were treated according to local guidelines. HHV6 was treated only when there was clinical suspicion of disease. Thirty-six HLA-identical and 22 HLA nonidentical grafts were transplanted of which 43 were bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells grafts and 15 were cord blood (CB) grafts. Median follow-up of the patients was 15.5 (1-35) months. HHV6 reactivation occurred in 39 of 58 (67%) patients with 31 of 39 (80%) occurring within the first 30 days post-HSCT. In 26 of 58 (45%) patients (group III), HHV 6 reactivation was significantly associated with higher nonrelapse mortality (P = .02), using multivariate Cox proportional hazard models and grade 2-4 acute GVHD (P = .03) and chronic GVHD (P = .05) in a multivariate logistic regression analysis. HHV6 reactivation is very common after HSCT in children and is associated with serious transplantation-related morbidity and mortality. Although the exact role of HHV6 reactivation after HSCT has to be elucidated, early detection and initiation of therapy might be of benefit.

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