Background: Both oral ganciclovir and valacyclovir decrease the incidence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease after renal transplantation. Moreover, valacyclovir has been shown to reduce the risk of acute rejection. Our study was designed to compare the efficacy and safety of oral ganciclovir and valacyclovir in the prophylaxis of CMV disease after renal transplantation.
Methods: A total of 83 patients were prospectively randomized to 3-month treatment with oral ganciclovir (3 g/day, n=36, GAN) or oral valacyclovir (8 g/day, n=35, VAL). A control group (DEF, n=12) was managed by deferred therapy.
Results: No differences were found in demography, immunosuppression, or donor/recipient CMV serology. The 12-month incidence of CMV disease was 67% in the DEF group compared with 6% in the GAN group and 3% in the VAL group (P<0.001 GAN or VAL vs. DEF; P=0.575 GAN vs. VAL). The biopsy-confirmed acute rejection rate at 12 months was 12% in the VAL group compared with 34% in the GAN group (P=0.030) and 58% in the DEF group (P<0.001). The difference between the GAN and DEF groups was not significant (P=0.087). The average CMV-associated costs per patient were $3,072, $2,906, and $4,906 in the GAN, VAL, and DEF groups, respectively.
Conclusions: Valacyclovir and oral ganciclovir are equally effective in the prevention of CMV disease after renal transplantation. Both regimens are cost-effective. Valacyclovir is associated with a significantly reduced risk of acute rejection compared with both ganciclovir prophylaxis and deferred therapy.