Adenovirus (Ad) infections in immunocompromised hosts have increased in frequency as the number of patients with transplants of bone marrow, liver, kidney, heart and other organs increase in number and survive longer. The numbers of such patients have also increased because of the emergence of the HIV epidemic. Ad infections with the 51 different serotypes recognised to date have few pathognomonic signs and symptoms, and thus require a variety of laboratory-based procedures to confirm infection. These viruses have the ability to target various organs with relative serotype specificity and can cause diverse manifestations including serious life-threatening diseases characteristic of the organs involved. Ads have cytolytic and immunoregulatory properties. The clinical dilemma remains the prompt recognition of Ad-related disease, the differentiation of Ad infection from Ad disease and the differentiation from other causative agents. Since the armamentarium of effective antiviral agents available to treat Ads is unproven by controlled trials and the virus is often not acquired de novo, it is difficult to prevent reactivation in immunodeficient hosts or new acquisition from donor organs. Timely discontinuation of immunosuppressive agents is necessary to prevent morbid outcomes. The clinical diseases, diagnostic tests, antiviral agents and biological aspects of the Ads as pathogens in immunocompromised patients are discussed in the context of this review. Some of the newer diagnostic tests are based on the well-studied molecular biology of Ads, which also have been attenuated by selective viral DNA deletions for use as vectors in numerous gene therapy trials in humans.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.