Early cytomegalovirus DNAemia and antiviral dose adjustment in high vs intermediate risk kidney transplant recipients

Transpl Infect Dis. 2021 Feb;23(1):e13457. doi: 10.1111/tid.13457. Epub 2020 Sep 22.


Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection continues to negatively affect outcomes for solid organ transplant recipients, despite the advent of strategies for preemptive surveillance and prophylaxis. The impact is especially great for CMV seronegative recipients of donor seropositive organs, who typically lack the ability to control CMV infection at the time of transplantation.

Methods: We reviewed episodes of CMV DNAemia in a modern cohort of kidney transplant recipients over a 3-year period at a high-volume transplant center to investigate the frequency of DNAemia during antiviral prophylaxis.

Results: Despite receipt of antiviral prophylaxis per current guidelines, 75 cases of CMV DNAemia were observed in the first 100 days after transplantation. For high risk patients, median time to DNAemia was 75 days after transplantation, and the majority of patients had experienced dose-reduction of valganciclovir due to renal insufficiency. Review of CMV seropositive intermediate risk patients demonstrated DNAemia occurring earlier after transplantation compared with high risk patients with a median time of 64 days (P = .029). The impact of valganciclovir dose adjustment was less notable in the intermediate risk group.

Conclusions: Guidelines recommend beginning routine surveillance for CMV after the completion of antiviral prophylaxis. Our findings suggest that closer monitoring may be beneficial, especially for high risk patients at risk for DNAemia. Patients requiring dose adjustment of valganciclovir due to renal insufficiency may be at increased risk for CMV DNAemia. Improved methods for CMV prophylaxis and evaluation of immunologic risk for CMV DNAemia and disease are needed to improve patient outcomes after kidney transplantation.

Keywords: antiviral medication; cytomegalovirus; kidney transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Ganciclovir / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Transplant Recipients
  • Valganciclovir / therapeutic use
  • Young Adult


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Valganciclovir
  • Ganciclovir