Background: Human herpesvirus type 8 (HHV-8) is the etiologic agent of Kaposi’s sarcoma. The incidence of Kaposi’s sarcoma in renal transplant patients is much higher than in healthy controls and the risk is higher among recipients who were anti-HHV-8-positive before transplantation. Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) are candidates for renal transplantation, but the prevalence of HHV-8 infection in ESRD patients has not been well documented.
Methods: Blood samples collected from 97 ESRD patients and 97 age- and sex-matched healthy controls were analyzed for HHV-8 antibody, HHV-8 DNA, and K1 genotyping.
Results: Approximately one third of nondiabetic ESRD patients had a history of ingesting herbal medicine. ESRD patients had much higher monocyte counts than healthy controls (P < 0.001). The seropositive rate and titers for HHV-8 antibodies were significantly greater in ESRD patients than in controls (P = 0.002 and < 0.001, respectively). Seropositive male ESRD patients were significantly younger than seropositive females (P = 0.02). High seropositive rate in ESRD patients was not associated with monocytosis, dialysis duration, or transfusion history. One diabetic woman with ESRD was positive for both HHV-8 antibody and HHV-8 DNA (K1 gene, subtype A).
Conclusions: Taking herbal medicine was an important cause of ESRD in Taiwan. ESRD patients have high seropositive rates for HHV-8. Male ESRD patients seemed to become immunocompromised earlier than female patients. ESRD patients, particularly those positive for HHV-8 DNA, should be closely monitored for HHV-8-associated clinical manifestations if they are to receive renal transplants.