International Journal of Hematology

DOI: 10.1007/s12185-018-2498-z Pages: 535-542

Comparison of HHV-6 DNA detection in plasma and whole blood in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients: frequent false-positive results for active HHV-6 infection using whole blood samples

1. Oita University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology

2. Oita University Hospital, Department of Hematology

3. Kouseiren Tsurumi Hospital, Department of Clinical Laboratory

4. Kumamoto Central Hospital, Department of Hematology

Correspondence to:
Masao Ogata
Tel: +81-97-586-6275



In this prospective observational study, we compared the human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) DNA load in serially collected paired plasma and whole blood (WB) samples from allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) recipients. A total of 721 paired samples were collected from 68 recipients. The positive rate for HHV-6 DNA was 9.7 and 35.0% in plasma and WB samples, respectively (P < 0.001). The correlation of HHV-6 DNA load between plasma and WB was poor (R2 = 0.250). After reaching peak levels, HHV-6 DNA showed a delayed decrease in WB in comparison with plasma (median, 28 versus 7 days, P < 0.001). We additionally tested HHV-6 mRNA status in 95 samples from eight patients. To identify positive HHV-6 mRNA, plasma HHV-6 DNA showed 55.0% sensitivity and 100% specificity, whereas WB HHV-6 DNA showed 90.0% sensitivity and 68.0% specificity. The false-positive rate for identifying positive HHV-6 mRNA was 0% for plasma HHV-6 DNA and 32.0% for WB HHV-6 DNA. Although WB was more sensitive than plasma for detecting HHV-6 reactivation, the rates of false positivity for active HHV-6 infection were higher for WB than for plasma.

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