Diagnostic Utility of Human Cytomegalovirus-Specific T-Cell Response Monitoring in Predicting Viremia in Pediatric Allogeneic Stem-Cell Transplant Patients

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Several studies proved that virus-specific T-cells play a pivotal role in controlling cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in adult allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplant (HSCT) patients. Fewer data are available in pediatric HSCT settings, when immature and inexperienced immune system may affect antiviral immune reconstitution.


We analyzed prospectively the CMV-specific T-cell reconstitution in a cohort of 31 pediatric allogeneic HSCT recipients at 30, 60, 90, 120, 180, and 360 days after HSCT.


Depending on donor-recipient CMV serostatus, we observed distinct patterns and kinetics of CMV-specific T-cell immune reconstitution: during the early time-points, patients displayed a severe reduction in CMV-specific T-cell recovery in both CMV seropositive donor (D+) group and CMV seronegative donor (D−) on CMV seropositive recipients (R+). From day 90 onward, statistical significant differences in the profile of T-cell immune reconstitution emerged between D+ and D−. The pattern of immune reconstitution was characterized by heterogeneous kinetics and efficiencies: we report cases of: (1) spontaneous antiviral T-cell recovery with no previous viremia, (2) immune T-cell recovery anticipated by CMV viremia, and (3) no T-cell immune reconstitution despite previous viremia episodes.


Given the heterogeneous scenarios of antiviral T-cell immune recovery in pediatric allogeneic HSCT, we conclude that the evaluation of the antiviral immune reconstitution is a promising and appealing system for identifying patients at higher risk of CMV infection. The use of interferon-γ ELISPOT test is a valid tool for immunological monitoring and predicting CMV viremia in pediatric HSCT.

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