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Transplantation. 1998 Dec 27;66(12):1780-6.

Effect of oral acyclovir or ganciclovir therapy after preemptive intravenous ganciclovir therapy to prevent cytomegalovirus disease in cytomegalovirus seropositive renal and liver transplant recipients receiving antilymphocyte antibody therapy.

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  • 1Transplantation and Infectious Disease Units, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114, USA.



Organ transplant recipients who are seropositive for cytomegalovirus (CMV) and who are treated with antilymphocyte antibody (ALA) therapy have a high rate of symptomatic CMV disease. The intravenous administration of ganciclovir therapy once daily during ALA therapy decreased the incidence from 24% to 10% in patients receiving ALA as an induction therapy and from 64% to 22% in those treated for rejection. The present study was undertaken to determine whether a more intensive and sustained antiviral regimen could be more effective.


From April 1995 to December 1997, all CMV seropositive renal and liver transplant recipients who received ALA therapy were treated with intravenously administered ganciclovir (5 mg/kg/day with dose adjusted for renal dysfunction) for the length of ALA therapy and then with orally administered acyclovir (400 mg three times/day) or ganciclovir (1 gm twice/day) for 3 to 4 months. The incidence of CMV viremia and of CMV disease was determined during the 6 months after completion of ALA therapy.


Forty-one patients (35 renal and 6 liver transplant recipients) were studied. CMV disease occurred in 2 patients (4.9%), both of whom were treated for rejection; it occurred in 1 of 21 patients (4.8%) treated with orally administered acyclovir, and in 1 of 20 patients (5%) treated with orally administered ganciclovir. The only patient who developed CMV disease in the ganciclovir group had received only 26 days of oral antiviral therapy. No CMV disease was documented in the group of patients receiving ALA therapy as induction therapy. CMV viremia occurred in three patients in the acyclovir group (14.3%) and in one patient in the ganciclovir group (5%). Among renal transplant recipients only, 1 of 35 patients developed CMV disease (2.9%) and no case of CMV disease was documented in patients treated with orally administered ganciclovir. All six patients receiving two courses of ALA therapy each were free of CMV disease. Toxicity of the regimen was minimal, and antiviral resistance did not develop.


Preemptive antiviral therapy with intravenously administered ganciclovir during ALA therapy and then orally administered ganciclovir for 3 to 4 months provides virtually complete protection against the excessive rate of CMV disease that occurs in CMV seropositive allograft recipients receiving ALA therapy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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