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Lancet. 1995 Jul 8;346(8967):69-74.

Randomised comparison of ganciclovir and high-dose acyclovir for long-term cytomegalovirus prophylaxis in liver-transplant recipients.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, UCLA Medical Center 90024, USA.


Despite current approaches to prophylaxis, cytomegalovirus (CMV) continues to be a common cause of infection and disease in solid-organ-transplant patients. Thus, we conducted a controlled trial comparing long-term administration of ganciclovir with high-dose acyclovir for prevention of CMV infection and disease in liver transplant recipients. At the time of transplant, patients were randomised to receive either ganciclovir (6 mg/kg body weight per day intravenously from postoperative day 1 to day 30, then 6 mg/kg per day Monday through Friday until day 100) or acyclovir (10 mg/kg intravenously every 8 h from postoperative day 1 to day of discharge, then 800 mg orally four times a day until day 100). Patients were followed for development of CMV infection, CMV disease, and drug-related toxicity by frequent cultures, serological tests, laboratory measurements, and tissue biopsies. During the first 120 days after transplant, CMV infection occurred in 48 of 126 (38%) acyclovir patients but in only 6 of 124 (5%) ganciclovir patients (p < 0.0001). Similarly, symptomatic CMV disease developed in 12 of 126 (10%) acyclovir patients but in only 1 of 124 (0.8%) ganciclovir patients (p = 0.002). Ganciclovir reduced the incidence of CMV infection in both CMV antibody positive (37 vs 4%, p = 0.001) and negative patients (42 vs 11%, p = 0.06). In a multivariate analysis of donor-recipient CMV antibody status and other risk factors, prophylactic ganciclovir was the most significant factor protecting against CMV infection (p < 0.0001) and disease (p = 0.001). Ganciclovir and acyclovir were generally well-tolerated. Incidences of leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, renal failure, and other adverse events were similar in the two groups. CMV can be eliminated almost completely as a significant pathogen in liver transplant recipients by the long-term administration of prophylactic ganciclovir. In addition, the treatment is safe.

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