Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is increasingly recognized as a potentially life-threatening pathogen in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloSCT). We retrospectively evaluated 54 adult patients who developed positivity to HHV-6 after alloSCT. The median time from alloSCT to HHV-6 reactivation was 34 days. HHV-6 was present in plasma samples from 31 patients, in bone marrow (BM) of 9 patients, in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and liver or gut biopsy specimens from 33 patients, and in cerebrospinal fluid of 7 patients. Twenty-nine patients developed acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), mainly grade III-IV, and 15 had concomitant cytomegalovirus reactivation. The median absolute CD3+ lymphocyte count was 207 cells/µL. We reported the following clinical manifestations: fever in 43 patients, skin rash in 22, hepatitis in 19, diarrhea in 24, encephalitis in 10, BM suppression in 18, and delayed engraftment in 11. Antiviral pharmacologic treatment was administered to 37 patients; nonetheless, the mortality rate was relatively high in this population (overall survival [OS] at 1 year, 38% ± 7%). A better OS was significantly associated with a CD3+ cell count ≥200/µL at the time of HHV-6 reactivation (P = .0002). OS was also positively affected by the absence of acute GVHD grade III-IV (P = .03) and by complete disease remission (P = .03), but was not significantly influenced by steroid administration, time after alloSCT, type of antiviral prophylaxis, plasma viral load, or organ involvement. Although HHV-6 detection typically occurred early after alloSCT, better T cell immune reconstitution seems to have the potential to improve clinical outcomes. Our findings provide new insight into the interplay between HHV-6 and the transplanted immune system.
- Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
- Human herpesvirus 6
- T cell immune reconstitution