Human herpesvirus 6 infections after liver transplantation

Rima Camille Abdel Massih, Raymund R. Razonable

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) infections occur in > 95% of humans. Primary infection, which occurs in early childhood as an asymptomatic illness or manifested clinically as roseola infantum, leads to a state of subclinical viral persistence and latency. Reactivation of latent HHV-6 is common after liver transplantation, possibly induced and facilitated by allograft rejection and immunosuppressive therapy. Since the vast majority of humans harbor the virus in a latent state, HHV-6 infections after liver transplantation are believed to be mostly due to endogenous reactivation or superinfection (reactivation in the transplanted organ). In a minority of cases, however, primary HHV-6 infection may occur when an HHV-6 negative individual receives a liver allograft from an HHV-6 positive donor. The vast majority of documented HHV-6 infections after liver transplantation are asymptomatic. In a minority of cases, HHV-6 has been implicated as a cause of febrile illness with rash and myelosuppression, hepatitis, pneumonitis, and encephalitis after liver transplantation. In addition, HHV-6 has been associated with a variety of indirect effects such as allograft rejection, and increased predisposition and severity of other infections including cytomegalovirus (CMV), hepatitis C virus, and opportunistic fungi. Because of the uncommon nature of the clinical illnesses directly attributed to HHV-6, there is currently no recommended HHV-6-specific approach to prevention. However, ganciclovir and valganciclovir, which are primarily intended for the prevention of CMV disease, are also active against HHV-6 and may prevent its reactivation after transplantation. The treatment of established HHV-6 disease is usually with intravenous ganciclovir, cidofovir, or foscarnet, complemented by reduction in the degree of immunosuppression. This article reviews the current advances in the pathogenesis, clinical diagnosis, and therapeutic modalities against HHV6 in the setting of liver transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2561-2569
Number of pages9
JournalWorld journal of gastroenterology
Issue number21
StatePublished - Jun 7 2009


  • Antivirals
  • Human herpesvirus 6
  • Immunocompromised
  • Liver transplantation
  • Opportunistic infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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