Specific Immunity to Cytomegalovirus in Pediatric Cardiac Transplantation

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BackgroundCytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is implicated in endothelial dysfunction and graft damage after pediatric heart transplantation. CMV-specific immune responses are thought to be necessary for CMV viral control but there is little data in pediatric heart transplantation.MethodsWe studied 28 consecutive pediatric heart transplant recipients for 1 year posttransplant. CMV T-cell expressing IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-2 in response to ex vivo stimulation with CMV lysates or peptides were measured. Circulating cytokines were measured in plasma. Generalized Additive Models were applied to the data to model changes of cell population dynamics over time.ResultsCMV-specific T cell-mediated responses were impaired in the first 8 weeks posttransplant. During this period, 25% of patients had CMV viremia, of which those with VLs of 10 000 or more CMV deoxyribonucleic acid copies/mL were given ganciclovir. In this group, the frequency of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells producing IFN-γ and the CD8+CD57+ granzyme B+ T-cell population increased at 12 to 24 weeks and remained elevated for the duration of the study.ConclusionsWe have shown that CMV viremia is associated with CMV-specific immune responses and increased CD8+CD57+ granzyme B+ cells at 1 year posttransplant; however, early responses were not predictive of impending CMV viremia. It remains to be seen if the early CMV immune response detected is associated with endothelial and allograft damage, in light of previous studies demonstrating increased vasculopathy in pediatric patients with CMV viremia.

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