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Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2011 Oct;17(10):1562-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2011.04.004. Epub 2011 Apr 20.

Human herpesvirus 6 infection after hematopoietic cell transplantation: is routine surveillance necessary?

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Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.


Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV6) may be an important pathogen following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). We prospectively evaluated weekly HHV6 viremia testing after allogeneic HCT using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assay. HHV-6 viremia was detected in 46 of 82 (56%) patients at a median of 23 days post-HCT (range: day +10 to +168). More males (65% vs females 39%, P = .03) and recipients of umbilical cord blood (UCB 69% vs unrelated donor [URD], 46% vs sibling donor [20%] grafts, P = 0.01) reactivated HHV-6. Patients with HHV6 viremia had more cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation (26% vs 5.5%, P = .01) and unexplained fever and rash (23.9% vs 2.7%, P = .01) compared with patients without HHV6 viremia. High-level HHV6 (≥ 25,000 copies/mL) versus lower levels were associated with more culture-negative pneumonitis (72.7% vs 22.8%, P = .01). Twenty HHV6-positive patients were treated with foscarnet, ganciclovir, or cidofovir for HHV6 or other coexistent viruses. Within 2 weeks, HHV6 viremia resolved more commonly in treated (65%) than untreated patients (31%), P = .02. Survival at 3 months was similar in treated and untreated patients (90% vs 81%, P = .4). Survival at 3 and 6 months post-HCT were not affected by HHV6 positivity (3 months HHV6+ 85% vs 78%, P = .46; 6 months HHV6+ 70% vs 72%, P = .89) or by HHV6 level (3-month high level 73% vs 89%, P = .23; 6-month high level 64% vs 71%, P = .54). Neither the occurrence of HHV6, degree of viremia, nor use of antiviral drugs influenced short-term survival after HCT.

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