Association of Human Herpesvirus 6 Infection With Drug Reaction With Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms | Allergy and Clinical Immunology | JAMA Dermatology | JAMA Network
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March 2001

Association of Human Herpesvirus 6 Infection With Drug Reaction With Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Dermatology (Drs Descamps, Valance, Lebrun-Vignes, Belaich, and Crickx), Anatomopathology (Dr Grossin), and Virology (Dr Edlinger), Hôpital Bichat-Claude Bernard, and the Virology Department, Hôpital Pitié-Salpétrière, Assistance Publique— Hôpitaux de Paris (Dr Fillet), Paris, France.

Arch Dermatol. 2001;137(3):301-304. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Dermatol.-ISSN-0003-987x-137-3-dob9037

Background  There is a current debate regarding the association of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) infection and drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS).

Methods  Seven consecutive patients hospitalized with DRESS were enrolled in a prospective study to evaluate evidence of active HHV-6 infection.

Observations  The imputable drugs were carbamazepine (5 patients), ibuprofen (1 patient), and sulfasalazine (1 patient). All patients were seropositive for anti–HHV-6 IgG antibodies. Anti–HHV-6 IgM antibodies were detected in 4 of the 7 patients with a seroconversion in 2 patients. Neither anti-cytomegalovirus nor anti–Epstein-Barr virus early antigen IgM antibody was detected. Human herpesvirus 6 genome was not detected by polymerase chain reaction in the first serum sample of all patients. It was weakly detected in skin lesions in the last patient tested by polymerase chain reaction but was not found in uninvolved skin.

Conclusions  The results suggest an association between HHV-6 active infection (primo-infection or reactivation) and severe DRESS. Absence of anti-cytomegalovirus or anti–Epstein-Barr virus early antigen IgM antibodies argues against a nonspecific viral reactivation. Human herpesvirus 6 infection may play a role in the development of DRESS in susceptible patients. Some drugs with reactive metabolites could favor reactivation and propagation of HHV-6.