The value of pre-emptive therapy for cytomegalovirus after liver transplantation.
ABSTRACT Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections are among the most common infections following liver transplantation. The main preventive methods for CMV infections are universal prophylaxis and pre-emptive therapy. In our study, we adopted a pre-emptive strategy in a higth-risk group of donor CMV-positive (D+)/recipient CMV-negative (R-) casses. We investigated whether this strategy was safe and effective to prevent CMV disease.
One hundred fifty-nine liver transplantation recipients who underwent over a 15-year period were retrospectively analyzed after follow-up for at least 6 months (mean, 63 months). Weekly quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) measurements were performed to detect viral DNA. No CMV drug prophylaxis was given: antiviral CMV therapy was initiated when the PCR for CMV-DNA was >400 copies/mL.
Fifty-one of 159 liver transplant recipients enrolled in the study received antiviral therapy. High-risk patients (D+/R-) developed CMV infections significantly more often than D-/R- serostatus (P = .005). CMV disease was diagnosed in 12% of CMV-positive patients. Independent of serostatus in 14 cases (27.5%) virological recurrence of CMV infection occurred after primary treatment. Survival analysis showed no significant difference between patients with versus without CMV infection (P = .950). No relationship could be found between transplant rejection and CMV infection (P = .349).
Our results showed that a pre-emptive strategy to prevent CMV disease was possible, even among the serological high-risk group. Only 12% of cases with CMV infection went on to manifest CMV disease with organ involvement. Survival curves were similar among patients with versus without CMV infections.