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Keywords:

  • human herpesvirus-6;
  • HHV-6;
  • hematopoietic stem cell transplantation;
  • encephalitis

Abstract

Introduction

Indications for the application of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) from alternative donors have remarkably broadened in scope; however, the incidence of infections that lead to failure of HSCT, such as human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) encephalitis, has also increased.

Methods

We analyzed risk factors for symptomatic HHV-6 reactivation and the development of HHV-6 encephalitis in 140 consecutive adult patients who received allogeneic HSCT at our institution. Stem cell sources for the recipients were as follows: related-donor bone marrow in 40, related-donor peripheral blood in 5, unrelated bone marrow in 67, and unrelated cord blood in 28.

Results

Symptomatic HHV-6 reactivation occurred in 22 patients (16%), and 11 patients manifested encephalitis. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis identified cord blood cell transplantation (CBT) as an independent predictor of HHV-6 reactivation (P = 0.008). Hyponatremia or hypernatremia at the time of HHV-6 reactivation was detected before the development of HHV-6 encephalitis in 2 or 4 patients, respectively. Two patients died of HHV-6 encephalitis and 6 patients died of relapse of underlying diseases. Survival analysis identified higher risk of the disease (P = 0.021) and HHV-6 encephalitis (P = 0.003) as independent risk factors for reduced overall survival.

Conclusion

In cases involving CBT or unrelated-donor transplantation, patients should be carefully monitored for the symptomatic reactivation of HHV-6.