Human herpesvirus-6 and -7 in pediatric stem cell transplantation

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BackgroundHuman herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) and -7 (HHV-7) may reactivate with immunosuppression and cause symptoms varying from subclinical to severe organ manifestations. The presence of HHV-6 and -7 and their possible association with clinical problems among pediatric recipients of stem cell grafts was studied in a single institution setting between November 1999 and December 2001.ProcedureA total of 60 patients, mean age 8.5 years, were transplanted: 2/3 received allogeneic grafts and 1/3 autologous stem cell rescue. The presence of HHV-6 and -7 was studied in blood by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (HHV-6) and antigenemia (HHV-6 and -7).ResultsBoth HHV-6 and -7 were frequently present in the blood of stem cell graft recipients. No significant difference in the incidence of HHV-6 or -7 reactivations between the allogeneic and autologous patients nor recipients of sibling or unrelated donor (URD) grafts was observed. HHV-6 antigenemia was associated with fever, rash, and delayed engraftment. Among symptomatic patients two cases of encephalitis were encountered with both having HHV-6 detectable in their cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) by PCR.ConclusionsHHV-6 and -7 seem to be common in blood both pre- and post-transplant among pediatric recipients of stem cell grafts. Prolonged reactivations appear to correlate with clinical symptoms such as fever, rash, and bone marrow suppression in the post-stem cell transplant setting (SCT), but severe complications are rare. Transient reactivations appear to be of very limited clinical significance. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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