Which organ transplant recipients are at highest risk for cytomegalovirus disease?

Updated: Jul 07, 2021
  • Author: Ricardo Cedeno-Mendoza, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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CMV is an important pathogen isolated in organ transplant recipients, as primary CMV infection in an organ transplant recipient may be quite severe. CMV disease occurs with the highest frequency in donor-positive/recipient-negative transplant recipients. This relationship is true for all organ transplant recipients except those who receive bone marrow, in whom the highest incidence of CMV disease is in donor-negative/recipient-positive individuals. The reason for this is unknown but may be related to the level of immunosuppression observed in patients who have received marrow transplants compared with those who have received other transplants.

Patients who have received marrow transplants undergo ablative chemotherapy and/or radiation. A period of neutropenia and a loss of specific antigen reactivity follow. All transplant recipients have a period of decreased CMV-specific cell-mediated immunity. The next step is unknown; however, patients at greatest risk for CMV disease develop viremia. The role viremia plays in the pathophysiology of CMV disease is unknown.

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