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Clin Lymphoma. 2002 Sep;3(2):105-10.

Cytomegalovirus viremia during Campath-1H therapy for relapsed and refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia and prolymphocytic leukemia.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Campath-1H is effective therapy for patients with relapsed and refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and prolymphocytic leukemia (PLL), but it is associated with profound lymphopenia and deficiencies in cell-mediated immunity. We report the incidence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) viremia in 34 patients treated with Campath-1H for relapsed or refractory CLL and PLL. All patients received infection prophylaxis during therapy and continuing for at least 2 months following Campath-1H. Five patients (15%) developed CMV viremia at a median of 28 days (range, 20-30 days) after the first dose of Campath-1H. The median CMV viral load was 860/mL (range, 420-2100/mL), as determined by quantitative plasma polymerase chain reaction (PCR). All 5 patients had a temperature > 38.5 degrees C, normal chest radiographs, normal liver function tests, and negative bacterial blood cultures with no clinical evidence of CMV disease at the time of presentation with CMV viremia. The median absolute neutrophil count (ANC) was 740/ microL (range, 340-1600/ microL), and the median absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) was 16/microL (range, 11-169/ microL) for the 5 patients at the time of CMV viremia. All 5 patients received ganciclovir therapy followed by prompt fever resolution and clearance of CMV viremia by plasma PCR. By univariate regression analysis, the following were not risk factors for CMV viremia: age, number of prior regimens, prior rituximab therapy, prior splenectomy, modified Rai stage at Campath-1H therapy (low/intermediate vs. high), ANC, and ALC; although, there was a trend towards significance for prior rituximab therapy (P = 0.07). Cytomegalovirus viremia may be a significant infectious complication during Campath-1H therapy and should be investigated further in future studies.

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