Human Herpes Virus-6–Associated Encephalitis/Myelitis Mimicking Calcineurin Inhibitor–Induced Pain Syndrome in Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation Recipients

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Abstract

Human herpes virus-6 (HHV6)-associated myelitis and calcineurin inhibitor–induced pain syndrome (CIPS) are serious complications of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT). Because these 2 complications cause similar sensory nerve–related symptoms, such as paresthesia, pruritus, and severe pain occurring around the engraftment, it can be difficult to differentially diagnose the 2 conditions. We retrospectively analyzed 435 recipients to distinguish clinical symptoms of these 2 complications. Twenty-four patients (5.5%) developed HHV6-associated encephalitis/myelitis; of these, 11 (2.5%) presented only with myelitis-related symptoms (HHV6-associated myelitis), which was confirmed by the detection of HHV6 DNA, and 8 (1.8%) had CIPS, with undetected HHV6 DNA. All patients with HHV6-associated myelitis or CIPS exhibited similar sensory nerve–related symptoms. Diagnostic images did not provide definite evidence specific for each disease. Symptoms of all patients with CIPS improved after switching to another immunosuppressant. Overall survival rate at 2 years for patients with HHV6-associated encephalitis/myelitis was significantly lower than that of CIPS (13.1% versus 29.2%; P =.049) or that of patients without HHV6-associated encephalitis/myelitis or CIPS (42.4%; P =.036), whereas there was no significant difference among the latter 2 groups (P =.889). The development of HHV6-associated encephalitis/myelitis but not CIPS was significantly associated with poor prognosis. Thus, transplant physicians should be aware that sensory nerve–related symptoms indicate early manifestations that might be correlated with reactivation of HHV6 or CIPS. Therefore, identification of HHV6 DNA is crucial for making a differential diagnosis and immediately starting appropriate treatments for each complication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2540-2548
Number of pages9
JournalBiology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Volume24
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hematology
  • Transplantation

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