This study was performed to characterise oral shedding of herpesviruses in patients who underwent allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloHSCT) and to investigate its relationship with oral mucositis (OM).
PCR and enzymatic digestion were conducted to identify oral shedding of herpesviruses and its correlation with OM development in 31 patients. The samples were collected at three sites in the oral cavity and at 5 times during follow-up; two additional collections were made from patients who developed ulcerative OM.
HSV-1, EBV, CMV, HHV-6A, HHV-6B, and HHV-7 were detected in 4.97%, 16.02%, 4.41%, 2.20%, 3.31%, and 68% of the oral mucosal samples, respectively; 4.41%, 16.57%, 5.52%, 2.20%, 5.52%, and 63.53% of supragingival samples, respectively, and 4.41%, 18.23%, 2.76%, 1.65%, 2.75%, and 35.91% of subgingival samples, respectively. OM was diagnosed in 13 patients. The presence of HHV-7 in C1 (oral mucosa: p = 0.032) and C2 (supragingival: p = 0.009; subgingival: p = 0.002) was significantly increased in patients who developed OM, and patients exhibiting HHV-7 shedding in the oral cavity were 3.32-fold more likely to develop OM.
Patients who developed OM showed higher HHV-7 shedding in the oral cavity at nadir (immediately prior to OM development), suggesting modifications to the inflammatory microenvironment.
HHV-7 may be involved in oral dysbiosis in HSCT-related OM; enhanced understanding of its role in the pathogenesis of OM may lead to the development of strategies for managing and preventing this common side effect of alloHSCT.