Comparison of Preemptive Therapy and Antiviral Prophylaxis for Prevention of Cytomegalovirus in Seropositive Liver Transplant Recipients

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Few studies have directly compared preemptive therapy (PET) and antiviral prophylaxis (AP) for prevention of cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease in CMV seropositive (R+) orthotopic liver transplant (OLT) recipients.


We prospectively assessed CMV disease and clinical outcomes among 160 consecutive R+ OLT recipients who received PET (weekly plasma CMV PCR for 3 months, oral valganciclovir 900 mg twice daily for CMV viremia >250 IU/mL, until 2 consecutive negative weekly PCR results) and compared them with a historical cohort of 156 R+ recipients who received AP (valganciclovir, 900 mg daily for 3 months).


Patient characteristics were similar between PET and AP cohorts (P > 0.05 all comparisons). In the PET group, 24% (39/160) developed CMV viremia greater than 250 IU/mL at a median of 42 (range, 7-93) days post-OLT. CMV monitoring adherence in the PET cohort was 85% (1488/1760 required tests) and 86% (30/36) initiated PET within 3 days of the CMV result. By 12 months post-OLT, the incidence of CMV disease, acute allograft rejection, major infection, or death in the PET and AP cohorts was not significantly different: 2% versus 2%, 19% versus 16%, 10.5% versus 10.8%, and 5% versus 8%, respectively (P > 0.05 all comparisons). The estimated proportion of drug-exposed patients and average antiviral drug exposure were significantly lower with PET versus AP: 24% versus 100%, P < 0.001, and 15.8 versus 81 g per patient, P < 0.001, respectively.


PET is feasible in a nonresearch setting and is associated with similar CMV disease rates and other clinically relevant outcomes to AP in CMV seropositive liver transplant recipients.

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