The role of Cytomegalovirus (CMV) in carcinogenesis is controversial. We studied whether CMV may contribute to cancer occurrence in renal transplant recipients. We studied a prospective cohort of 455 consecutive patients who received a kidney transplant between January 1995 and December 2006. All cancers and types of cancers were assessed. Lymphocyte phenotype and cytokines production were analysed according to CMV status in a subset population of this cohort. Mean follow-up was 84 ± 29 months. One hundred and nineteen cancers (26.2%) occurred during the study follow-up. There was a higher cumulated incidence of cancers in CMV-exposed patients (30.4% vs. 20%; P=0.018). Mean time to cancer occurrence was shorter in CMV-exposed patients than in CMV-naïve patients (4.7 ± 2.6 vs. 6.7 ± 2.8; P = 0.001). Cox regression analysis revealed that both pretransplant CMV exposure (HR, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.17-2.88; P = 0.009) and post-transplant CMV replication (HR, 2.17; 95% CI, 1.02-4.59; P = 0.044) were risk factors for cancer. Among CD8+ T cells, exhausted T cells assessed as CD57+CD28- were expanded in CMV-exposed patients (26 ± 20 vs. 9 ± 8%; P < 0.0001), whereas CD8+CD57+IL2- cells were more frequent in CMV-exposed patients. Our results highly suggest that CMV increases the risk of cancer after transplantation.
© 2012 The Authors. Transplant International © 2012 European Society for Organ Transplantation.