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There is a current debate regarding the association of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) infection and drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS).
Seven consecutive patients hospitalized with DRESS were enrolled in a prospective study to evaluate evidence of active HHV-6 infection.
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.
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.
Descamps V, Valance A, Edlinger C, et al. Association of Human Herpesvirus 6 Infection With Drug Reaction With Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms. Arch Dermatol. 2001;137(3):301–304. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Dermatol.-ISSN-0003-987x-137-3-dob9037
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