Effect of Antivirals on Human Herpesvirus 6 Replication in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Recipients

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Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) appears to cause central nervous system (CNS) syndromes, especially in hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients. We reviewed our experience with HHV-6–associated CNS disease to evaluate both the clinical and virological presentation and response to antiviral therapy. A search of our virology database from January 1998 through June 2000 identified 11 HSCT recipients who had HHV-6 DNA detected by polymerase chain reaction in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); 8 of whom had CNS dysfunction without another clear etiology identified. HHV-6 levels in serum and CSF were evaluated before and after ganciclovir and/or foscarnet therapy. Median log HHV-6 CSF levels appeared to decrease over time concurrent with antiviral therapy (serum level, 2.0 vs. 0 copies/mL [P = .38]; CSF level, 4.4 vs. 2.0 copies/mL [P = .13], sign test). Our data suggests that HHV-6 may cause moderate to severe CNS disease after HSC transplantation. Prospective studies are needed to define the spectrum of HHV-6–associated disease and to determine whether antiviral therapy offers clinical benefit.

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