Bone marrow transplant (BMT) recipients were evaluated for subclinical varicella-zoster virus (VZV) viremia and symptoms of herpes zoster after transplantation. Viremia was demonstrated by testing peripheral blood mononuclear cells using polymerase chain reaction and was documented in 19% of 37 patients. When reactivation was defined as herpes zoster and/or subclinical VZV viremia, 41% of VZV-seropositive BMT recipients experienced VZV reactivation. None of 12 patients tested before VZV reactivation had T lymphocyte proliferation to VZV antigen (mean stimulation index, 1.0 +/- 0.42 [SD] at less than 100 days; 12.0 +/- 6.03 at greater than 100 days [P = .003]). Among patients tested at greater than 100 days, 5 (63%) of 8 with detectable T cell proliferation had subclinical or clinical VZV reactivation compared with none of 6 who lacked VZV T cell responses. Recovery of VZV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte function was observed in 50% of BMT patients, but BMT recipients had significantly fewer circulating cytotoxic T lymphocytes that recognized VZV immediate early protein (P = .03) or glycoprotein I (P = .004) than did healthy VZV immune subjects. In vivo reexposure to VZV antigens due to subclinical VZV viremia or symptomatic VZV reactivation may explain the recovery of virus-specific T cell immunity after BMT.
View details for Web of Science ID A1992GW58200016
View details for PubMedID 1309369