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Clin Infect Dis. 1996 Aug;23(2):292-7.

Primary cytomegalovirus infection in liver transplant recipients: comparison of infections transmitted via donor organs and via transfusions. Boston Center for Liver Transplantation CMVIG Study Group.

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Department of Medicine, New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.


Primary cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in liver transplant recipients generally occurs following transmission via a CMV-seropositive donor organ. Occasionally primary infection arises in recipients of CMV-seronegative donor organs through blood transfusions. We studied the differences in clinical manifestations of primary CMV infection associated with these two modes of transmission, among 40 liver transplant recipients who had documented primary CMV infection post-transplantation. Thirty-one of 40 patients received a CMV-seropositive donor organ; CMV infection in the other nine patients was transfusion related. Symptomatic CMV disease (22 of 31 vs. 4 of 9; P = .06), CMV hepatitis (20 of 31 vs. 1 of 9; P = .007), invasive fungal disease (13 of 31 vs. 0 of 9; P = .03), and death (16 of 31 vs. 1 of 9; P = .06) were more likely to occur in patients with donor organ-associated primary CMV infection. The incubation period between transplantation and onset of CMV infection, a possible marker for viral load, was shorter in recipients of donor organ-transmitted CMV infection (median, 44 vs. 137 days; P = .004). Controlling for potential confounders such as immunosuppression did not alter these associations. Primary CMV infection associated with the donor organ has a more profound impact than primary infection associated with transfusion. These differences may be due to dissimilarities in the viral load associated with donated livers and transfused blood products.

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