Severe pancytopenia and hemophagocytosis after HHV-8 primary infection in a renal transplant patient successfully treated with foscarnet1

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We report the occurrence of human herpesvirus (HHV)-8 primary infection in an adult male kidney recipient. Four months after transplantation, the patient developed visceral Kaposi sarcoma, and 1 month later he presented with progressive and severe peripheral cytopenia, in the presence of a normocellular or hypercellular bone marrow (BM) with hemophagocytosis. HHV-8 was the sole pathogen detected by polymerase chain reaction either in the serum or in the BM. HHV-8 latent nuclear antigen was detected in immature progenitor cells from the BM. Immunosuppressive therapy was reduced, and the patient was treated with foscarnet for 2 weeks, leading to a dramatic normalization of blood cell counts, concomitantly with the disappearance of HHV-8 viremia. At the end of antiviral therapy, the patient received chemotherapy, and Kaposi sarcoma regressed in 2 months. Severe peripheral cytopenia may be a posttransplant complication after HHV-8 infection, for which treatment with foscarnet seems appropriate.

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