Background. Pityriasis rosea (PR) is a common papulosquamous skin disorder that is suspected to have an infectious aetiology. Objectives. We aimed to study the role of human herpesvirus (HHV)-7 and HHV-6 in the pathogenesis of PR. Methods. We performed seroepidemiological studies (indirect immunofluorescence test) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis for HHV-6 and HHV-7 in patients with PR. Seventy-two serum samples and 37 samples of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 44 patients with PR were obtained. Twenty-five patients with other skin disorders such as drug eruption, urticaria or herpes zoster were studied as controls in the PCR analysis. Results. HHV-7 DNA was detected in 13 of 30 (43%) samples of PBMC of the patients with PR and 14 of 25 (56%) samples of PBMC of controls. HHV-6 DNA was detected in six of 29 (21%) patients with PR and nine of 23 (39%) controls. Thus there was no difference in the prevalence of HHV-6 or HHV-7 in PBMC between patients with PR and those with other skin disorders. In the seroepidemiological study, two cases of at least a fourfold rise in titre and five cases of a fourfold decrease in titre to HHV-7 antibody, and two cases of a fourfold rise in titre and two cases of a fourfold decrease in titre to HHV-6 antibody, were observed in 24 patients with PR. This seroepidemiological study revealed antibody responses consistent with active infection in several PR patients, but the greater proportion of the patients had no definite increase in the antibody titres. Conclusions. We conclude that HHV-7 and HHV-6 may play a part in some patients with PR, but that other causative agents may exist. Further analyses are needed to determine the causative agents of PR.
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