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Exp Clin Transplant. 2008 Mar;6(1):67-73.

Time of onset, viral load, relapse, and duration of active cytomegalovirus infection in bone marrow transplant outcomes.

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  • 1Service des Laboratoires, Faculte de Medecine de Tunis, Tunisia.



Active cytomegalovirus infection remains a major problem for bone marrow transplant recipients. If not quickly diagnosed and treated, it can evolve into cytomegalovirus disease, which represents a life-threatening complication. In this work, we sought to evaluate the interactions between clinical complications after bone marrow transplant and factors associated with active cytomegalovirus infection.


We evaluated 91 allogeneic bone marrow transplant recipients (35 female, 56 male; median age, 20 years; age range, 3-47 years) for malignant and nonmalignant hematologic diseases. Active cytomegalovirus infection was monitored using pp65 cytomegalovirus antigenemia and a semiquantitative cytomegalovirus polymerase chain reaction. Cytomegalovirus end-organ disease was defined as an association between compatible signs and symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, and diarrhea) and detection of cytomegalovirus (>or= 2,000 cytomegalovirus genome copies/mL) by hybrid capture assay in tissue biopsy. Variables were compared using the chi-square and Fisher exact tests. Time of death after bone marrow transplant was plotted using the Kaplan-Meier method. A Cox regression model was used for multivariate survival analysis with 95% confidence limits.


Sixty-four patients experienced active cytomegalovirus infection, 26 had acute graft-versus-host disease, and 11 had cytomegalovirus diseases. The overall survival rate at 4 years was 83.52%. On multivariate analyses, cytomegalovirus disease (hazard ratio = 15.9, P = .001) and age older than 18 years (hazard ratio = 8, P = .18) were the only independent negative prognostic factors for overall survival. Occurrence of acute graft-versus-host disease was increased by early active cytomegalovirus infection (P = .03) and represents a significant factor for active cytomegalovirus infection recurrence (P = .01). Viral load as quantified by antigenemia and cytomegalovirus DNA in the patients' peripheral blood leukocytes was significantly associated with clinical complications.


Active cytomegalovirus infection interacts significantly in several ways with graft-versus-host disease and others infections. Acute graft-versus-host disease increases the chances of a poor outcome, especially of acquiring cytomegalovirus disease. Cytomegalovirus disease constitutes a significant independent risk factor for death after bone marrow transplant.

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