Systemic rotavirus infection, such as rotavirus antigenemia, has been found in immunocompetent rotavirus gastroenteritis patients. However, the pathogenesis of rotavirus infection in immunocompromised transplant recipients remains unclear. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to measure rotavirus antigen levels in serially collected serum samples obtained from 62 pediatric patients receiving allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCT). Rotavirus antigen was detected in 43 (6.8%) of 633 serum samples (8 of 62 patients). The duration of rotavirus antigenemia ranged between 1 and 10 weeks, and diarrhea was concurrent with rotavirus antigenemia in Cases 3, 6, 7, and 8. The level of viral antigen in the transplant recipients (0.19 ± 0.20) was significantly lower than that observed in serum samples collected from immunocompetent patients on either day 1 (0.49 ± 0.18, P = 0.0011) or day 3 (0.63 ± 0.09, P = 0.0005). A patient who received a graft from a human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-mismatched donor was at significant risk for rotavirus antigenemia (P = 0.024; odds ratio = 9.44) in comparison to patients who received grafts from HLA-matched donors. Although the duration of antigenemia was clearly longer in HSCT patients than in immunocompetent rotavirus gastroenteritis patients, the levels of viral antigen were not as high. Therefore, mismatched HLA may be a risk factor for rotavirus antigenemia after HSCT.
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