PROSPECTIVE STUDY OF HUMAN BETAHERPESVIRUSES AFTER RENAL TRANSPLANTATION: Association of Human Herpesvirus 7 and Cytomegalovirus Co-infection with Cytomegalovirus Disease and Increased Rejection1

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Background.Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) and HHV-7 are two lymphotropic herpesviruses, which, like cytomegalovirus (CMV), have the potential to be pathogenic in immunocompromised individuals. We have conducted a prospective investigation to compare the natural history of HHV-6 and HHV-7 infection with that of CMV after renal transplantation.Methods.Polymerase chain reaction was used to identify infections and quantify the viral load of CMV, HHV-6, and HHV-7 in peripheral blood samples from 52 renal transplant recipients. Betaherpesvirus infections were related to defined clinical criteria obtained by detailed examination of the clinical records of each patient for the immediate 120-day posttransplant period.Results.CMV was the most commonly detected virus after transplant (58% of patients), followed by HHV-7 (46%) and HHV-6 (23%). Examining the time to first polymerase chain reaction positivity, HHV-7 infection was detected earlier than CMV (P =0.05). The median maximum CMV viral load was significantly higher than those for HHV-6 (P =0.01) and HHV-7 (P <0.0001) and a trend for HHV-7 viral load to be greater than HHV-6 (P =0.08). Clinicopathological analyses revealed that, in those patients with rejection, HHV-7 was associated with more episodes of rejection (P =0.02). In addition, there was a significant increase in CMV disease occurring in patients with CMV and HHV-7 co-infection compared to those with CMV infection only (P =0.04).Conclusions.HHV-7 should be further investigated as a possible co-factor in the development of CMV disease in renal transplant patients and may potentially exacerbate graft rejection. No clear pathological role was observed for HHV-6.

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