Aciclovir and Varicella-Zoster-Immunoglobulin in Solid-Organ Transplant Recipients

Pediatr Nephrol. 2011 May;26(5):663-73. doi: 10.1007/s00467-010-1666-z. Epub 2010 Nov 15.


Clear recommendations for the management of acute varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infections for cases of significant exposure and the use of prophylactic drugs after solid-organ transplantation are missing due to the lack of evidence by prospective studies. Heterogeneity in patient groups, patient numbers, age groups, immunosuppressive regimens, timing, and dosage of aciclovir and/or varicella-zoster immunoglobulin (VZIG), pre-transplant vaccination or VZV wild-type infection and inconsistency of data make comparability of different studies impossible. Although the benefit of aciclovir and/or VZIG is uncertain in immunosuppressed children, prospective controlled double-blind studies are not feasible for ethical considerations as fatal cases with disseminating varicella disease are well known in these patient groups despite the use of aciclovir and/or VZIG, whereas severe side-effects of these drugs are rare. However, a reporting bias is likely as mainly severe or fatal cases might have been predominantly published or cases of successfully used aciclovir and/or VZIG in mild cases or in cases of breakthrough infections after vaccination. As neither VZIG prophylaxis nor treatment with intravenous aciclovir offers complete protection against severe VZV infection to immunosuppressed pediatric solid-organ transplant recipients, high priority should be given to vaccination against VZV prior to transplantation, and, most importantly, in their close contact persons. Clinical observations suggest that only assessment of humoral immunity together with cellular immunity may allow predication about protection in exposed patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acyclovir / therapeutic use*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / immunology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Immune Sera
  • Immunocompromised Host*
  • Organ Transplantation*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Immune Sera
  • varicella-zoster immune globulin
  • Acyclovir