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Increased human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) DNA load in peripheral blood leukocytes after lung transplantation correlates with HCMV pneumonitis

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 12:51 authored by Michaelides, A, Liolios, L, Glare, EM, Spelman, DW, Bailey, MJ, Eugene WaltersEugene Walters, Williams, TJ, Snell, GI, Kotsimbos, TC
Background. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) reactivation and disease remain relatively common in lung transplant recipients (LTR) despite the use of ganciclovir prophylaxis protocols for all HCMV at-risk patients. The specific aims of this study were to (1) describe the HCMV DNA viral load in the peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) of a cohort of LTR during the first 6 months after lung transplantation; (2) prospectively determine whether HCMV DNA viral load predicts episodes of HCMV pneumonitis in LTR; and (3) study the effect of ganciclovir on HCMV viral load. Methods. Competitive polymerase chain reaction using an internal standard and fluorometric detection were used to quantitate HCMV DNA in the PBL of a cohort of 26 LTR monthly for the first 6 months after transplantation (145 samples). All patients were treated with standard triple immunosuppression, and ganciclovir prophylaxis was given to all at-risk LTR (donor or recipient HCMV seropositive) for at least 8 weeks after transplantation. Results. Thirteen episodes of histopathologically proven HCMV pneumonitis in nine subjects occurred during follow-up with a wide intra- and intersubject variation in the HCMV DNA PBL levels. HCMV detection had a sensitivity of 92% and specificity of 76% for HCMV pneumonitis (negative likelihood ratio, 9.5), whereas greater than 10-fold increases in HCMV DNA load had a specificity of 93% and sensitivity of 67% (positive likelihood ratio, 11). HCMV DNA detection had an adjusted odds ratio for HCMV pneumonitis of 107 (95% confidence interval, 14-821; P<0.005). In those with detectable HCMV DNA in PBL (n=44), HCMV DNA levels were 4.4 (95% confidence interval, 1.2-16.8) times higher in those with HCMV pneumonitis than in those without HCMV pneumonitis. Although ganciclovir treatment was very effective in treating HCMV pneumonitis and suppressing HCMV DNA levels, thrice weekly ganciclovir prophylaxis only partially controlled HCMV DNA levels and did not eliminate HCMV pneumonitis risk as three patients developed HCMV pneumonitis while on this regimen. Conclusions. HCMV DNA detection, absolute levels, and relative change from baseline in the PBL of LTR correlate with HCMV pneumonitis episodes and may be a useful intermediate outcome measure of the efficacy of ganciclovir prophylaxis and treatment strategies.


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Tasmanian School of Medicine


Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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