Human Herpesvirus

  • Transplant Testing for Human Herpesviruses

    Coppe Laboratories’ scientists have a long history in the study and diagnosis of viral infections in transplant patients. Drs. Knox and Carrigan were among the first scientists to correlate symptoms of pneumonitis, encephalitis, and graft failure in bone marrow transplant recipients with reactivation of HHV-6.

    View our testing panel and requirements

    Until now, testing for HHV-6 has lacked the specificity for differentiating between latent and active infection. Coppe Laboratories performs reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) which is a a sensitive and powerful tool for analyzing active, replicating virus.

    Coppe Laboratories is currently the only reference laboratory performing comprehensive testing for chromosomally integrated HHV-6 (ciHHV-6) on blood, hair follicle and nail clippings.

    We are also currently the only reference laboratory providing immunohistochemical staining of tissues to denote active HHV-6 infection.

  • Chromosomally Integrated HHV-6

    HHV-6 exists in a chromosomally integrated form (ciHHV-6) whereby the viral DNA resides in every somatic and germ cell in the body. Patients with ciHHV-6 have been misdiagnosed and unnecessarily treated with powerful and toxic antiviral agents based on a mistaken diagnosis of reactivated HHV-6. High persistent HHV-6 DNA levels in blood can be found in immunocompetent individuals with viral chromosomal integration. Analysis for integration is necessary to distinguish between ciHHV-6 and HHV-6 reactivation.

    ciHHV-6 occurs in about 1% of the population and confounds the diagnostic interpretation of reactivated HHV-6 in solid organ and hematopoietic transplant recipients (SOT and HCT). In the case of an HCT recipient or donor who has undiagnosed ciHHV-6, the evolution of chimerism due to stem cell engraftment can be misdiagnosed as HHV-6 reactivation during the early engraftment period and patients may be treated inappropriately. Conversely, in the case of pre-identified ciHHV-6 HCT or SOT recipients, the high background level of DNA from integrated HHV-6 can mask HHV-6 reactivation and make it impossible to evaluate the efficacy of antiviral therapy.