Respiratory viruses in lung transplant recipients: a critical review and pooled analysis of clinical studies

Am J Transplant. 2011 May;11(5):1071-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2011.03490.x.


Lung transplant recipients present an increased risk for severe complications associated with respiratory infections. We conducted a review of the literature examining the clinical relationship between viral respiratory infection and graft complications. Thirty-four studies describing the clinical impact of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza, human metapneumovirus, rhinovirus, enterovirus, coronavirus, bocavirus or adenovirus were identified. The detection rate of respiratory viral infection ranged from 1.4% to 60%. Viruses were detected five times more frequently when respiratory symptoms were present [odds ratio (OR) = 4.97; 95% CI = 2.11-11.68]. Based on available observations, we could not observe an association between respiratory viral infection and acute rejection (OR = 1.35; 95% CI = 0.41-4.43). We found a pooled incidence of 18% (9/50) of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) in virus-positive cases compared to 11.6% (37/319) in virus-negative cases; however, limited number of BOS events did not allow to confirm the association. Our review confirms a causal relationship between respiratory viruses and respiratory symptoms, but cannot confirm a link between respiratory viruses and acute lung rejection. This is related in part to the heterogeneity and limitations of available studies. The link with BOS needs also to be reassessed in appropriate prospective studies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans / virology
  • Graft Rejection
  • Humans
  • Lung / virology*
  • Lung Transplantation / methods*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Postoperative Complications
  • PubMed
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Virus Diseases / complications
  • Virus Diseases / virology