BACKGROUND: Ganciclovir is a highly effective and relatively safe drug to treat cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in liver transplant patients; CMV resistance to ganciclovir is progressively emerging due to the extensive use of the drug in transplant and AIDS patients; CMV pp65 antigenemia allows early diagnosis of CMV infection and quantitation of the viral load; preemptive antigenemia-guided therapy of CMV infection can prevent CMV disease but the threshold of antigenemia value above which treatment has to be instituted is unclear. METHODS: To demonstrate the safety of abstention from preemptive treatment in the presence of low levels of antigenemia 77 consecutive liver transplant recipients were prospectively evaluated. Antigenemia was tested twice a week from transplantation until discharge, then once a week until the third postoperative month. In absence of risk factors for CMV disease, namely donor positive/recipient negative CMV serology, treatment with antibodies to lymphocytes and retransplantation, only patients with antigenemia of more than 50 or symptoms possibly related to CMV infection had preemptive treatment. RESULTS: A total of 32 patients had at least one positive antigenemia test with a value less than 50; 22 (68.7%) spontaneously cleared the virus, 3 were treated with i.v. ganciclovir for the presence of fever, and the other 7 (21,8%) progressed to values of antigenemia of more than 50 and were treated even if asymptomatic. No CMV disease was observed in these patients. CONCLUSION: CMV antigenemia less than 50 in liver transplant recipients with low and intermediate risk for CMV disease does not mandate preemptive ganciclovir treatment. Close surveillance with repeated determination of antigenemia until its negativization and careful clinical and laboratory monitoring is advisable.
Abstension from treatment of low-level pp65 cytomegalovirus antigenemia after liver transplantation: a prospective study / Vivarelli, Marco; DE RUVO, N; Lazzarotto, T; Bellusci, R; Landini, Mp; Varani, S; Cavallari, A.. - In: TRANSPLANTATION. - ISSN 0041-1337. - STAMPA. - 70:(2000), pp. 1183-1187. [10.1097/00007890-200010270-00010]