Detection of Cytomegalovirus in Colonic Mucosa of Children With Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Although it has been recommended to perform sigmoidoscopy to screen for cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation in acute severe colitis, the frequency of CMV reactivation in children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency and management of CMV detection in colonic mucosa of children with IBD.


In a retrospective study, consecutive IBD patients, <17 years old, with moderate to severe colitis who had sigmoid biopsy specimens evaluated for CMV by hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining, immunohistochemistry (IHC), and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were included.


A total of 90 sigmoid biopsies were collected from 67 patient encounters from 58 patients with colitis: 61 patient encounters (91%) with UC/IBD-U including biopsy samples from colectomy specimens of eight patients who had colectomy during the study period. Medication exposure included corticosteroids for 40 (69%) patients, and immunosuppressive agents for 31 (53.4%) patients. Four of 61 patient encounters (6.6%) with UC/IBD-U, two with corticosteroid refractory disease, had positive biopsies for CMV by PCR but negative H&E and IHC. They responded to escalated medical therapy, without needing anti-viral therapy, and none required colectomy over a median duration of follow up of 1.1 year (IQR 1–1.6).


CMV presence is uncommon in colonic mucosa of children with IBD. Studies examining the underlying sero-prevalence of CMV and its role of reactivation of colitis are required to determine if the current recommendation for routine sigmoidoscopy to exclude CMV infection in corticosteroid-refractory acute severe colitis is justified.

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