High rate of human herpesvirus-8 seroprevalence in thalassemic patients in Italy

Francesca Cottoni, Roberta Santarelli, Giuseppe Gentile, Domenico Gallisai, Angela Capobianchi, Maria Vittoria Masala, Maria Antonietta Montesu, Marisa Coinu, Daniela Piras, Pietro Martino, Gabriella Girelli, Rosanna Satta, Decio Cerimele, Luigi Frati, Alberto Faggioni, Antonio Angeloni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The potential risk of acquiring infection by the novel human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8) through blood derivatives is still debated. Objectives: In the present study, we determined HHV-8 seroprevalence in β-thalassemic patients living in Italy. Study design: We have analysed 86 patients from Sardinia, an island characterised by a high diffusion of HHV-8, as well as 33 thalassemics from the area of Rome, where a lower rate of HHV-8 infection has been reported. These data have been compared with HHV-8 seroprevalence found in healthy controls living in the same areas of the assayed patients. Results and conclusions: A three-fold increase in HHV-8 seroprevalence was found among thalassemic patients when compared to control groups taken from the same regions (17.6% versus 5.1%). This risk factor was statistically significant when considering the Sardinians alone (P=0.01) and the entire population analysed in the present survey (P=0.0006). In the Roman area also an increased seroprevalence in thalassemic subjects was found (12.1% versus 4.6%) but it was not statistically significant (P=0.2). HHV-8 is sporadically present in the blood of healthy individuals and it is unknown whether the virus eventually present in donors' blood is completely cleared by the treatments which blood undergoes before red cells are transfused. Based on these considerations, we hypothesise that multiply transfused subjects living in areas at high HHV-8 prevalence present an increased risk of being infected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-109
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2004


  • Blood transmission
  • HHV-8
  • Italy
  • Kaposi's sarcoma
  • Thalassemics
  • Transfusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Virology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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