The majority of adults are seropositive for human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6). HHV-6 reactivation can occur after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and lead to life-threatening central nervous system disorders. In this prospective study, we evaluated the relationship between HHV-6 reactivation and anti-HHV-6 IgG antibody levels in recipients of allogeneic HSCT. The HHV-6 viral load in the plasma was quantitatively measured weekly after allogeneic HSCT by real-time polymerase chain reaction. The level of anti-HHV-6 IgG antibody was measured by enzyme‐linked immunosorbent assay before and serially after transplantation. In 28 of the 56 evaluated patients (50%), HHV-6 reactivation was detected after transplantation. In a multivariate analysis, cord blood as the stem cell source was the only significant factor associated with HHV-6 reactivation (odds ratio, 8.6; 95% confidence interval, 2.3 to 32.6; P < .01). When evaluated in the recipients of cord blood transplantation (CBT), the anti-HHV-6 antibody level before transplantation was significantly lower in the patients with HHV-6 reactivation compared with those without (sample positivity index: median, 2.04 [range, 0.95 to 5.98] versus 4.15 [range, 3.93 to 5.65]; P < .05). The anti-HHV-6 antibody level was significantly decreased at 3 months post-transplantation compared with before transplantation (P < .01). Such differences were not observed in other stem cell sources. Our results demonstrate that the low anti-HHV-6 antibody level before transplantation was associated with the reactivation of HHV-6 after CBT, and that the anti-HHV-6 antibody level was significantly decreased specifically after CBT. These results suggest that HHV-6-specific humoral immunity plays a role in HHV-6 reactivation after CBT.
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