Objective: The clinical significance of cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation complicating ulcerative colitis (UC) patients has been uncertain. It has therefore remained undetermined whether or not CMV reactivation should be treated in UC patients under immunosuppression. The aim of the study was to clarify the natural history of CMV reactivation in UC patients.
Methods: Sixty-nine UC patients with moderate to severe activity were enrolled in the study. All of the patients were treated with prednisolone, and/or immunosuppressants such as cyclosporine A. We sequentially monitored CMV reactivation every 2 wk up until 8 wk using the CMV antigenemia (Ag) assay and plasma quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for CMV.
Results: Immunoglobulin (Ig) G for CMV was positive in 48 patients (69.6%) and negative in 21 patients (30.4%). CMV was reactivated in 25 patients out of the 48 seropositive patients (52.1%) during the study period. The CMV Ag and PCR values were low and none of the patients showed any evidence of CMV infection on biopsy specimens by hematoxylin and eosin staining. While gancylovir (GCV) was not used except in two patients, clinical outcomes including rates of remission and colectomy were not significantly different among the CMV reactivation-positive, -negative, and CMV IgG negative groups. Furthermore, CMV disappeared without GCV in most of the CMV reactivation-positive patients.
Conclusions: CMV is frequently reactivated in active UC patients; however, it disappears without antiviral agents. Therefore, antiviral therapies should not be necessary for most UC patients with only CMV reactivation as long as CMV Ag values are low.