Human Herpesvirus 6 Infection after Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: Is Routine Surveillance Necessary?

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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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1562-1568
Number of pages7
JournalBiology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Allogeneic transplantation
  • Foscarnet
  • Ganciclovir
  • Human herpesvirus 6
  • Umbilical cord blood

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