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Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2011 Sep;17(9):1389-94. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2011.01.014. Epub 2011 Feb 4.

Long-term outcome of human herpesvirus-6 encephalitis after allogeneic stem cell transplantation.

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Department of Hematology, Yokohama City University Medical Center, Yokohama, Japan.


Human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) encephalitis is recognized as a relatively rare, but sometimes lethal, complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Although the development of new diagnostic techniques and antiviral therapy has improved, the prognosis of encephalitis is still unclear. We surveyed 197 patients who underwent allogeneic HSCT between January 2004 and March 2008 at our institution, and 8 (4.0%) were diagnosed as having HHV-6 encephalitis. Five were male and 3 were female, with a median age of 40.5 years. The median onset of HHV-6 encephalitis was 18 days after HSCT, and the median duration of antiviral therapy was 41 days. The median survival time from the onset of encephalitis was 23.1 months (range: 2.7-66.7), and 3 patients died of unrelated causes (sepsis in 2 and gastrointestinal tract bleeding in 1). Cord blood transplantation was identified as the only independent risk factor (relative risk [RR] = 4.98; P = .049) by multivariate analysis. There was no statistical significance of survival after HSCT between the patients with HHV-6 encephalitis and those without HHV-6 encephalitis (the 2-year survival rate was 60% and 52.6%, respectively; P = .617). Four of the 5 surviving patients were unable to return to society because of neuropsychological disorders, including anterograde amnesia and seizures with prominent hippocampal atrophy. Although HHV-6 encephalitis occurring after HSCT is now becoming a curable complication, its sequelae, such as neuropsychological disorders, have a marked influence on the quality of life of long-term survivors. Accordingly, it is necessary to identify risk factors for HHV-6 encephalitis and establish methods for prevention of this complication.

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