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J Clin Virol. 2013 Sep;58(1):276-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2013.06.008. Epub 2013 Jul 1.

An artesunate-containing antimalarial treatment regimen did not suppress cytomegalovirus viremia.

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  • 1Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, WA, USA.



Additional drugs are needed for the treatment of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. Artesunate is an antimalarial drug that has activity against CMV in vitro and in a rodent model. Only a small number of case reports are available describing the clinical effects of artesunate on CMV infection, and these yielded inconsistent results.


To evaluate the effect of artesunate on CMV infection, using blood samples collected from children who participated in malaria treatment trials.


Quantitative CMV DNA PCR was performed on dried blood spots collected from 494 Ugandan children, who were randomized either to artesunate plus amodiaquine or sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine plus amodiaquine for acute malaria infection. Poisson regression was used to compare treatment regimens with respect to the change in the frequency and quantity of CMV detected that occurred before and after treatment.


CMV was detected in 11.4% of children immediately prior to treatment and 10.7% 3 days later (p=0.70). The average quantity of CMV was 0.30 log10 copies per million cells higher on day 3 than at treatment initiation (95% CI 0.01-0.58, p=0.041). There was no measurable difference in either the frequency or quantity of CMV detected in blood between children randomized to the two treatment arms.


A standard 3-day artesunate-containing antimalarial regimen had no detectable effect on CMV viremia in children with malaria. Longer treatment courses and/or higher doses of artesunate than those routinely used for malaria may be required for effective treatment of CMV infection.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Antiviral; Artesunate; CMV; Cytomegalovirus; DBS; Malaria; Treatment; cytomegalovirus; dried blood spot

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