Viral infections in lung transplantation

J Thorac Dis. 2021 Nov;13(11):6673-6694. doi: 10.21037/jtd-2021-24.


Viral infections account for up to 30% of all infectious complications in lung transplant recipients, remaining a significant cause of morbidity and even mortality. Impact of viral infections is not only due to the direct effects of viral replication, but also to immunologically-mediated lung injury that may lead to acute rejection and chronic lung allograft dysfunction. This has particularly been seen in infections caused by herpesviruses and respiratory viruses. The implementation of universal preventive measures against cytomegalovirus (CMV) and influenza (by means of antiviral prophylaxis and vaccination, respectively) and administration of early antiviral treatment have reduced the burden of these diseases and potentially their role in affecting allograft outcomes. New antivirals against CMV for prophylaxis and for treatment of antiviral-resistant CMV infection are currently being evaluated in transplant recipients, and may continue to improve the management of CMV in lung transplant recipients. However, new therapeutic and preventive strategies are highly needed for other viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or parainfluenza virus (PIV), including new antivirals and vaccines. This is particularly important in the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, for which several unanswered questions remain, in particular on the best antiviral and immunomodulatory regimen for decreasing mortality specifically in lung transplant recipients. In conclusion, the appropriate management of viral complications after transplantation remain an essential step to continue improving survival and quality of life of lung transplant recipients.

Keywords: Immunomodulatory effects; antiviral drugs; chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD); herpesvirus; respiratory viral infections.

Publication types

  • Review