Human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) Infection in Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant Recipients: Evidence of a Marrow-Suppressive Role for HHV-6 in Vivo

J Infect Dis. 1993 Mar;167(3):735-9. doi: 10.1093/infdis/167.3.735.


Sixteen adults were studied for the first 100 days after allogeneic bone marrow transplant to assess the pathogenic role of human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) infection in patients with unexplained febrile illnesses. HHV-6 was directly isolated from the blood of 6 patients. Analysis of the clinical courses of these 16 patients revealed otherwise unexplained posttransplant marrow suppression in 5 patients. Idiopathic marrow suppression occurred more frequently in patients with concurrent HHV-6 viremia (4/6) than in those from whom HHV-6 was not isolated from peripheral blood (1/10, P < .05). An etiologic role for the virus was also supported by isolation of HHV-6 from the bone marrow of all 4 patients at the time of marrow suppression and by in vitro colony-forming unit (cfu) assays that demonstrated that HHV-6 could inhibit cfu-granulocyte-macrophage and burst-forming unit-erythroid growth from human bone marrow. By restriction enzyme mapping, all clinical isolates were type B, suggesting that bone marrow transplant recipients may be preferentially infected with and reactivate this HHV-6 subtype. This study implicates HHV-6 as a novel cause of bone marrow suppression in marrow transplant recipients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Base Sequence
  • Bone Marrow / microbiology
  • Bone Marrow / physiopathology*
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colony-Forming Units Assay
  • Fever / etiology
  • Foscarnet / therapeutic use
  • Ganciclovir / therapeutic use
  • Hematopoiesis*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / drug therapy
  • Herpesviridae Infections / etiology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / physiopathology*
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / classification
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Viremia


  • Foscarnet
  • Ganciclovir