Human herpesvirus types 6 and 7 infection in pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients

Ann Transplant. 2014 Jun 2;19:269-76. doi: 10.12659/AOT.889995.


Background: The immunosuppressed state in patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) predisposes them to activation of latent viral infections such as herpesvirus types 6 and 7 (HHV6 and HHV7). We aimed to evaluate the incidence, manifestations, outcomes, and risk factors of HHV 6 and HHV 7 infections after pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Material and methods: We performed 106 HSCTs (86 allogeneic and 20 autologous) on 94 children (56 boys, median age 7.1 years) during 2006-2012. Patients suspected to have HHV6 or HHV7 infections were tested using polymerase chain reaction on serum and/or cerebrospinal fluid.

Results: Among the 63 patients tested for HHV, 10 patients (15.9%) were infected (HHV-6 (n=6), HHV-7 (n=4)) at a median of 18 days post-HSCT (cumulative incidence 11.5% at 1 year). Manifestations included fever (90%), rash (70%), hepatitis (80%), pneumonitis (50%), central nervous system (CNS) manifestations (40%), and graft failure (10%). One patient had persistent CNS infection despite treatment with foscarnet, ganciclovir, and cidofovir. Seven patients cleared herpesvirus after a median of 22 days. Four patients died (relapse of malignancy [n=3], acute graft-versus-host disease [aGVHD] [n=1]). Herpesvirus infections were associated with adenovirus infection (p=0.001) and severe (grade III-IV) aGVHD (p=0.037).

Conclusions: We concluded that HHV6 and HHV7 infections are common after pediatric HSCT. Most infections were self-limited and could be associated with adenovirus infection and severe aGVHD. Further studies are needed to evaluate predictors of severe morbidity or mortality, and define optimal prophylaxis and treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae Infections / drug therapy
  • Adenoviridae Infections / epidemiology
  • Adenoviridae Infections / immunology
  • Adolescent
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / epidemiology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Human papillomavirus 6 / genetics
  • Human papillomavirus 6 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Papillomavirus Infections / drug therapy
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / immunology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Virus Latency / immunology*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • DNA, Viral