Human Herpesvirus 6 Infections After Bone Marrow Transplantation: Clinical and Virologic Manifestations

J Infect Dis. 1999 Feb;179(2):311-8. doi: 10.1086/314581.


Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) DNA levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells were prospectively evaluated in 20 cytomegalovirus-seronegative allogeneic marrow transplant patients and in 10 healthy control subjects. Blood and saliva specimens obtained weekly for 3 months after transplant were evaluated by quantitative HHV-6 polymerase chain reaction. One of 20 patients experienced primary HHV-6 infection after marrow transplant (seroconversion, HHV-6 viremia, skin rash); 18 of 20 had increased peripheral blood mononuclear cell HHV-6 DNA levels consistent with asymptomatic reactivations, and 1 patient experienced a reactivation-associated skin rash. Genotyping revealed HHV-6 variant B DNA in all cases. Therapy with acyclovir or intravenous immunoglobulin was not correlated with lower HHV-6 DNA levels. Thus, asymptomatic HHV-6 reactivations appear to be common following allogeneic marrow transplantation. Among HHV-6-seronegative and viral DNA-negative patients, primary HHV-6 infection can ensue in association with self-limited clinical symptoms, including diffuse maculopapular rash.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Exanthema / etiology
  • Female
  • Fever / etiology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / etiology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / virology*
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Virus Activation


  • DNA, Viral