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Papers of the Week

2020 May

Bone Marrow Transplant



Clinical characteristics of human herpesvirus-6 myelitis after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and its favorable outcome by early intervention.


Shiroshita K, Mori T, Kato J, Sakurai M, Koda Y, Abe R, Murakami K, Sumiya C, Fujita S, Yamaguchi K, Yamazaki R, Nakayama H, Suzuki S, Nakahara J, Okamoto S
Bone Marrow Transplant. 2020 May; 55(5):939-945.
PMID: 31754252.


After allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) can cause serious central nervous system (CNS) disorder and typically presents as encephalitis. Another manifestation of HHV-6 is myelitis, which has not been fully evaluated. In this study, we retrospectively analyzed 19 patients who developed HHV-6 myelitis after allogeneic HSCT. Median onset was 20 days after transplantation (range, 13-31), with a cumulative incidence of 4.1% at day 40 after transplantation. Median age at transplant was 50 years (range, 17-61). Median copy number of HHV-6 DNA was 3000 copies/ml in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF; range, 200-100,000). The most common symptoms were pruritus, pain of the extremities/back, and numbness. Three patients subsequently developed encephalitis in the clinical course of myelitis; their HHV-6 copy numbers in CSF had been higher than 10,000 copies/ml at the onset of myelitis. Antiviral agents were initiated shortly after onset in all patients, resulting in recovery. These results suggest that myelitis would be an important subtype of HHV-6-associated CNS disorders after allogeneic HSCT, whose prognosis could be favorable by an early intervention. Transplant physicians should recognize early posttransplant neurological symptoms such as pruritus, pain, or numbness as possible signs of HHV-6 myelitis, which could also progress to encephalitis.