Human herpesvirus 6 and human herpesvirus 7: emerging pathogens in transplant patients

Int J Hematol. 2002 Aug;76 Suppl 2:246-52. doi: 10.1007/BF03165124.


Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) and HHV-7 are two recently identified beta-herpesviruses, genetically related to human cytomegalovirus (CMV). Infection with both viruses is common worldwide with rates of seropositivity in adults over 90%. Infection with both viruses usually occurs in early childhood. In this age group HHV-6 is a cause of febrile illness including exanthem subitum, and likewise, primary HHV-7 infection has been associated with febrile illness. Similar to the other human herpesviruses, in particular CMV, the viruses have the potential for enhanced pathogenicity in the immunocompromised host. Active infection with both viruses is common following bone marrow or solid organ transplantation, most likely through reactivation of recipient's virus or re-infection considering their high prevalence in the population. Both viruses can be detected by PCR in the peripheral blood of healthy individuals and although the significance of blood-borne transmission is not clear, a preliminary study suggested that it was not significant for HHV-6. However, there is growing evidence that these viruses may be medically important in the post-transplant period. In bone marrow transplant patients HHV-6 has been associated with a range of clinical disease including encephalitis, interstitial pneumonitis, early and late graft failure and bone marrow suppression. There is also growing evidence for potential interactions among the beta-herpesviruses in liver and renal transplant patients. HHV-6 infection has been associated with an increased risk of developing CMV disease and opportunistic infections and HHV-7 infection has also been linked to an increased risk of CMV disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Herpesviridae Infections / drug therapy
  • Herpesviridae Infections / etiology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / virology*
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / growth & development
  • Herpesvirus 7, Human / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Opportunistic Infections / drug therapy
  • Opportunistic Infections / etiology
  • Opportunistic Infections / virology
  • Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Virus Activation