Human herpesvirus (HHV)-6 and -7 are novel members of the β-herpesvirus family that maintain latency in the human host after primary infection. Reactivation from latency and/or increased degree of viral replication occurs during periods of immune dysfunction. The clinical effect of HHV-6 and HHV-7 reactivation in recipients of liver transplants is now being recognized. Clinical illnesses such as fever, rash, pneumonitis, encephalitis, hepatitis, and myelosuppression have been described in a number of anecdotal reports. Moreover, a growing body of evidence suggests that the more important effect of HHV-6 and HHV-7 reactivation on the outcomes of liver transplantation may be mediated indirectly by their interactions with the other β-herpesvirus-cytomegalovirus (CMV). Coinfection among these three β-herpesviruses in clinical syndromes that were classically ascribed to be solely caused by CMV has been shown and has raised substantial interest in the potential role of HHV-6 and HHV-7 as copathogens in the direct and indirect illnesses caused by CMV. This article reviews the current scientific data on the role and the magnitude of impact of HHV-6 and HHV-7 infection on the outcomes of liver transplantation.
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