Background: Trichloroethylene (TCE) is an industrial solvent which can cause severe generalized dermatitis, i.e., occupational TCE hypersensitivity syndrome. Reactivation of latent human herpesvirus 6 (HHV6) can occur in such patients, which has made TCE known as a causative chemical of drug-induced hypersensitivity syndrome (DIHS). Objective: This study aimed to clarify HHV6 status, cytokine profiles and their association with rash phenotypes in patients with TCE hypersensitivity syndrome. Methods: HHV6 DNA copy numbers, anti-HHV6 antibody titers, and cytokines were measured in blood prospectively sampled 5-7 times from 28 hospitalized patients with the disease. Results: The patients (19 had exfoliative dermatitis (ED) and 9 had non-ED type rash) generally met the diagnostic criteria for DIHS. Viral reactivation defined as increases in either HHV6 DNA (≥100 genomic copies/106 peripheral blood mononuclear cells) or antibody titers was identified in 24 (89%) patients. HHV6 DNA, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interferon (IFN)-γ, interleukin (IL)-5, IL-6 and IL-10 concentrations were remarkably higher in the patients than in the healthy workers (p<0.01). Positive correlations between HHV6 DNA, TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-6 and IL-10 were significant (p<0.05) except for that between HHV6 DNA and IFN-γ. An increase in HHV6 DNA was positively associated with an increase in TNF-α on admission (p<0.01). HHV6 DNA, the antibody titers, TNF-α and IL-10 concentrations were significantly higher in ED than in the non-ED type (p<0.05). Conclusion: Reactivated HHV6 and the increased cytokines could be biomarkers of TCE hypersensitivity syndrome. The higher-level reactivation and stronger humoral responses were associated with ED-type rash.
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