Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) replication and disease, with its associated morbidity and poor transplant outcome, represents a serious threat to transplant recipients. The pediatric kidney transplant population is at a particularly increased risk of CMV infection.
Methods: We therefore analyzed CMV epidemiology in a large cohort of pediatric renal transplant recipients (n = 242) and assessed the impact of antiviral chemoprophylaxis with valganciclovir (VGCV) or ganciclovir (GCV) on CMV replication and morbidity.
Results: While antiviral chemoprophylaxis with VGCV or GCV in patients with a high (D+/R-) or intermediate (D+/R+) CMV risk (n = 82) compared to preemptive therapy (n = 47) had no significant effect on the incidence of CMV syndrome or tissue-invasive disease, chemoprophylaxis was associated with a better preservation of transplant function at 3 years posttransplant (loss of estimated glomerular filtration rate in the chemoprophylaxis cohort, 16.0 ± 3.4 vs. 30.1 ± 4.7 mL/min per 1.73 m(2) in the preemptive therapy cohort, P < 0.05).CMV replication was associated with a more pronounced decline of graft function (difference in estimated glomerular filtration rate of 9.6 mL/min per 1.73 m(2) at 3 years) compared to patients without CMV replication. However, patients undergoing VGCV or GCV chemoprophylaxis had more leukocytopenia.
Conclusion: Antiviral chemoprophylaxis with VGCV or GCV in recipients with a high or moderate CMV risk is associated with a better preservation of transplant function. Hence, the prevention of CMV replication in this patient population has the potential to improve transplant outcome.