Cytomegalovirus diagnosis in renal and bone marrow transplant recipients: the impact of molecular assays

J Clin Virol. 2001 Jan;20(1-2):49-57. doi: 10.1016/s1386-6532(00)00155-4.


Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections are a major threat in transplant recipients. In recent years, new assays for routine CMV diagnosis, based on molecular techniques, have become available.

Objective: The impact of molecular assays for CMV diagnosis in transplant recipient was evaluated.

Study design: A total of 51 transplant recipients were screened for CMV infection. Serological (AxSYM CMV IgG and recombinant CMV IgM assays), antigenemia, CMV DNA (qualitative in house PCR and the quantitative COBAS AMPLICOR CMV MONITOR Test), and CMV mRNA (NucliSens CMV pp67 Test) tests were compared.

Results: In 11/20 bone marrow transplant (BMT) recipients and 10/31 renal transplant (RTX) recipients there was no evidence of active CMV infection. Ten RTX recipients and one BMT recipient were antigenemia positive, 21 RTX and seven BMT recipients were PCR positive (qualitative CMV PCR). There were more BMT recipients CMV DNA positive in serum (7/21) than antigenemia positive (1/21). CMV mRNA was found positive in two BMT recipients (one case with no other evidence of CMV infection, the other one CMV DNA positive and antigenemia negative). The only antigenemia positive BMT recipient was found negative for CMV mRNA, but positive in all other tests. Eight RTX recipients were found positive for CMV mRNA. Six of them were also antigenemia positive and five of those were also found positive for CMV IgM. One CMV mRNA positive RTX recipient was CMV IgM positive but antigenemia negative and the other one CMV mRNA positive RTX recipient was found negative in all other tests. Two antigenemia positive RTX recipients were found negative for mRNA and CMV IgM.

Conclusion: Antigenemia was found to be a good screening test for CMV infection in RTX recipients. In BMT recipients, tests based on molecular techniques appeared to be superior compared to antigenemia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, Viral / blood
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cytomegalovirus / genetics*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / virology
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Serologic Tests


  • Antigens, Viral
  • DNA, Viral
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Viral