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Yale group finds HHV-6 in the Nodular Sclerosis Subset of Hodgkin's Lymphoma

A new study from Yale has identified HHV-6 in 86% of nodular sclerosis Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NSHL) cases. Researchers utilized several laboratory methods—including IHC, PCR, and FISH—to identify HHV-6 DNA in tissue samples from 31 lymph node cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In addition, the group also sought to localize the presence of HHV-6 DNA in particular HL cell types, and identified HHV-6 DNA via immunohistochemistry in malignant Reed-Sternberg cells in nearly half of the cases.  This result, which is supported by previously published work by Lacroix et al and others, suggests that HHV-6 may play a direct role in the pathogenesis of NSHL. For more information, read the abstract, or visit the HHV-6 Foundation’s webpage on HHV-6 & Cancer.

10% of Cord Blood Transplants Develop HHV-6 Limbic Encephalitis; 50% Mortality Rate

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute monitored 1,344 post-HSCT patients and found that 19 (1.4%) developed HHV-6 PALE.  Most notably, 10/101 (10%) of the patients who received UCB as the graft source developed HHV-6 PALE. Furthermore, the authors report a 50% death rate of patients with HHV-6 PALE following UCB transplant. Risk factors included grades II-IV GVHD and adult-mismatched donors.

HHV-6 Reactivation Tied to Increased Mortality and Acute GVHD in HSCT

Investigators from the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found high HHV-6 levels (>1,000 DNA copies/mL) associated with both increased mortality and acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) grades II-IV (p<0.001). High-level HHV-6 with acute GVHD grades II-IV activation and stages 3-4 skin acute GVHD (p=0.04) were associated with HHV-6 reactivation, and an even stronger association was reported with high-level HHV-6 reactivation (p=0.03). All HHV-6 infections were type B.

Febrile Status Epilepticus Linked to HHV-6B & HHV-7 Reactivation in 1/3 of Cases

A ten-year NIH-funded study has determined that a third of infants with prolonged seizures and fever suffer from either a new or reactivated roseola virus infection. Roseola viruses are the cause of the common childhood rash, but can also cause limbic encephalitis, a condition that frequently progresses to epilepsy. Investigators discovered one of the roseola viruses, human herpesvirus-6B (HHV-6B) in the blood of 32% of 169 infants with prolonged seizures, a condition known as status epilepticus. They found HHV-7 (another roseola virus) in 7.1% of the patients, usually as a co-infection with HHV-6B.

High Levels of HHV-6 (but not EBV/CMV) DNA in Liver Decreases Survival in Graft Hepatitis

A group of physicians from Hannover Medical School in Hannover, Germany, have reported that high intrahepatic HHV-6 virus loads are associated with decreased graft survival after diagnosis of graft hepatitis . Interestingly, elevated levels of CMV and EBV were not correlated with a reduction in graft survival time. However, although the detection of HHV-6 DNA in liver tissue biopsies was associated with decreased graft survival, other methods of HHV-6 detection were less reliable in predicting poor outcome.

Novel Multivirus-Specific Immunotherapy Developed as Antiviral Treatment for Transplant Patients.

A group from Baylor University has developed a novel immunotherapy technique for limiting the effects of multiple viruses known to cause complications following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). The therapy focuses on the rapid generation of polyclonal cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) that are specific for 15 antigens from 7 different viruses: EBV, CMV, Adenovirus, BK, HHV-6, RSV, and Influenza. This approach offers many advantages over conventional antiviral treatment options, because there is no toxicity and it can be used for patients infected with strains that are resistant to commonly used antivirals. EBV- specific T-cell therapy has been shown to treat and prevent EBV related post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD) in several studies by the same group (Heslop 2010). For more information, see the abstract. This study was partially funded through the HHV-6 Pilot Grant Program.