Background: In drug-induced hypersensitivity syndrome (DIHS), latent human herpesvirus (HHV)-6 is frequently reactivated in association with flaring of symptoms such as fever and hepatitis. We recently demonstrated an emergence of monomyeloid precursors expressing HHV-6 antigen in the circulation during this clinical course.
Methods: To clarify the mechanism of HHV-6 reactivation, we immunologically investigated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), skin-infiltrating cells, and lymphocytes expanded from skin lesions of patients with DIHS.
Results: The circulating monomyeloid precursors in the patients with DIHS were mostly CD11b(+) CD13(+) CD14(-) CD16(high) and showed substantial expression of skin-associated molecules, such as CCR4. CD13(+) CD14(-) cells were also found in the DIHS skin lesions, suggesting skin recruitment of this cell population. We detected high levels of high-mobility group box (HMGB)-1 in blood and skin lesions in the active phase of patients with DIHS and showed that recombinant HMGB-1 had functional chemoattractant activity for monocytes/monomyeloid precursors in vitro. HHV-6 infection of the skin-resident CD4(+) T cells was confirmed by the presence of its genome and antigen. This infection was likely to be mediated by monomyeloid precursors recruited to the skin, because normal CD4(+) T cells gained HHV-6 antigen after in vitro coculture with highly virus-loaded monomyeloid precursors from the patients.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that monomyeloid precursors harboring HHV-6 are navigated by HMGB-1 released from damaged skin and probably cause HHV-6 transmission to skin-infiltrating CD4(+) T cells, which is an indispensable event for HHV-6 replication. These findings implicate the skin as a cryptic and primary site for initiating HHV-6 reactivation.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.