Over the last decade, human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) has been implicated in the etiology of pediatric myocarditis and subsequent dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This review provides an overview of recent literature investigating the pathophysiological relevance of HHV-6 in inflammatory cardiomyopathy. We examined 11 cases of previously published pediatric myocarditis and/or DCM associated with HHV-6 and also our experience of detection of virus particles in vascular endothelium of HHV-6 positive endomyocardial biopsy tissue by electron microscopy. The exact role of the presence of HHV-6 and its load remains controversial as the virus is also found in the heart of healthy controls. Therefore, the question remains open whether and how cardiac HHV-6 may be of pathogenetic importance. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction or mRNA testing allows differentiation between low-level latent virus found in asymptomatic myocardium and active HHV-6 infection. Although only a small number of pediatric cases have been reported in literature, HHV-6 should be considered as a causative agent of inflammatory cardiomyopathy, especially in children under three who might be experiencing a primary infection. Future studies are needed to establish a threshold for determining active infection in biopsy samples and the role of coinfections other cardiotropic viruses.
- Human herpesvirus 6 cardiomyopathy
- myocarditis in children
- pediatric-dilated cardiomyopathy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine