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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Oct 19;(4):CD003774.

Antiviral medications for preventing cytomegalovirus disease in solid organ transplant recipients.

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  • 1Children's Hospital at Westmead, Centre for Kidney Research, Locked Bag 4001, Westmead, NSW, Australia 2145.



The risk of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in solid organ transplant recipients has resulted in the frequent use of prophylaxis with the aim of preventing the clinical syndrome associated with CMV infection.


To determine the benefits and harms of antiviral medications to prevent CMV disease and all-cause mortality in solid organ transplant recipients.


We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE, reference lists and abstracts from conference proceedings without language restriction.


Randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials comparing antiviral medications with placebo or no treatment, trials comparing different antiviral medications and trials comparing different regimens of the same antiviral medications in recipients of any solid organ transplant.


Two reviewers independently assessed trial quality and extracted data from each trial. Statistical analyses were performed using the random effects model and results expressed as relative risk (RR) for dichotomous outcomes with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Subgroup analysis and univariate meta-regression were performed using restricted maximum-likelihood to estimate the between study variance. Multivariate meta-regression was performed to investigate whether the results were altered after allowing for differences in drugs used, organ transplanted and recipient CMV serostatus at the time of transplantation.


Thirty two trials (3737 participants) were identified. Prophylaxis with aciclovir, ganciclovir or valaciclovir compared with placebo or no treatment significantly reduced the risk for CMV disease (19 trials; RR 0.42, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.52), CMV infection (17 trials; RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.48 to 0.77), and all-cause mortality (17 trials; RR 0.63, 95% CI 0.43 to 0.92) primarily due to reduced mortality from CMV disease (seven trials; RR 0.26, 95% CI 0.08 to 0.78). Prophylaxis reduced the risk of herpes simplex and herpes zoster disease, bacterial and protozoal infections but not fungal infection, acute rejection or graft loss. Meta-regression showed no significant difference in the risk of CMV disease or all-cause mortality by organ transplanted or CMV serostatus; no conclusions were possible for CMV negative recipients of negative organs. In direct comparison trials, ganciclovir was more effective than aciclovir in preventing CMV disease (seven trials; RR 0.37, 95% Cl 0.23 to 0.60). Valganciclovir and intravenous ganciclovir were as effective as oral ganciclovir.


Prophylaxis with antiviral medications reduces CMV disease and CMV-associated mortality in solid organ transplant recipients. They should be used routinely in CMV positive recipients and in CMV negative recipients of CMV positive organ transplants.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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