Fatal herpesvirus 6 encephalitis after unrelated bone marrow transplant

A. Bosi, M. Zazzi, A. Amantini, M. Cellerini, A. M. Vannucchi, A. De Milito, S. Guidi, R. Saccardi, L. Lombardini, D. Laszlo, P. Rossi Ferrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A complex pattern of neurological dysfunctions with generalized seizures and visual allucinations, but without focal signs, suddenly arose 20 days after an unrelated bone marrow transplant for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in a 13-year-old girl, accompanied by signs of acute skin graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed multiple bilateral foci of signal abnormalities, which were exclusively localized in the grey matter, sparing the white. Extensive microbiological and virological assays of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) allowed the identification of HHV-6, variant A, DNA. Further progression of both neurological alterations and of skin and gut GVHD led to a fatal outcome 2 weeks later. A retrospective analysis of both the recipient and donor mononuclear cell suspensions supported the hypothesis that HHV-6 had been acquired from the donor with the bone marrow graft. This report suggests a pathogenetic role of HHV-6 in viral encephalitis in immunocompromised bone marrow transplant (BMT) recipients, and its possible association with GVHD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-288
Number of pages4
JournalBone Marrow Transplantation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Bone marrow transplantation
  • Encephalitis
  • Graft-versus-host disease
  • Herpesvirus 6

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Transplantation


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