What is the efficacy of preemptive therapy against cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease?

Updated: Jul 07, 2021
  • Author: Ricardo Cedeno-Mendoza, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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A study compared 96 renal transplant recipients in Italy between May 2006 and December 2007, all of whom received preemptive therapy with ganciclovir and/or valganciclovir, with 100 controls who received CMV prophylaxis. Serial quantitative viral loads were obtained weekly during the first 4 months. Asymptomatic patients, with a viral load DNA of more than 100,000 copies/mL determined using PCR, were treated with for 3 months or until resolution of viral replication. Among the 96 transplant recipients, blood CMV viral loads were elevated in 14 asymptomatic patients, who were treated with oral valganciclovir for 3 months. After a median follow-up period of 13.3 months, none of the 14 patients who received valganciclovir developed CMV disease, leading the authors to conclude that valganciclovir administered as preemptive therapy was safe and efficacious in preventing CMV disease. [71]

Conversely, a study using CMV pp65 antigenemia as the trigger for treatment found prophylaxis to be more effective than preemptive therapy for preventing CMV pneumonia in marrow transplant recipients. [72] At the same time, however, ganciclovir at engraftment was associated with more early invasive fungal infections and more late CMV disease. [72]

Some experts believe CMV prophylaxis in solid organ transplant recipients may protect against indirect CMV effects not measurable by levels, such as graft rejection, opportunistic infections, and transplant-associated vasculopathy. [68]

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