Cytomegalovirus High-risk Kidney Transplant Recipients Show No Difference in Long-term Outcomes Following Preemptive Versus Prophylactic Management

Transplantation. 2023 Aug 1;107(8):1846-1853. doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000004615. Epub 2023 Jul 20.


Background: Following kidney transplantation (KT), cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection remains an important challenge. Both prophylactic and preemptive antiviral protocols are used for CMV high-risk kidney recipients (donor seropositive/recipient seronegative; D+/R-). We performed a nationwide comparison of the 2 strategies in de novo D+/R- KT recipients accessing long-term outcomes.

Methods: A nationwide retrospective study was conducted from 2007 to 2018, with follow-up until February 1, 2022. All adult D+/R- and R+ KT recipients were included. During the first 4 y, D+/R- recipients were managed preemptively, changing to 6 mo of valganciclovir prophylaxis from 2011. To adjust for the 2 time eras, de novo intermediate-risk (R+) recipients, who received preemptive CMV therapy throughout the study period, served as longitudinal controls for possible confounders.

Results: A total of 2198 KT recipients (D+/R-, n = 428; R+, n = 1770) were included with a median follow-up of 9.4 (range, 3.1-15.1) y. As expected, a greater proportion experienced a CMV infection in the preemptive era compared with the prophylactic era and with a shorter time from KT to CMV infection ( P < 0.001). However, there were no differences in long-term outcomes such as patient death (47/146 [32%] versus 57/282 [20%]; P = 0.3), graft loss (64/146 [44%] versus 71/282 [25%]; P = 0.5), or death censored graft loss (26/146 [18%] versus 26/282 [9%]; P = 0.9) in the preemptive versus prophylactic era. Long-term outcomes in R+ recipients showed no signs of sequential era-related bias.

Conclusions: There were no significant differences in relevant long-term outcomes between preemptive and prophylactic CMV-preventive strategies in D+/R- kidney transplant recipients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections* / diagnosis
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections* / drug therapy
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections* / prevention & control
  • Ganciclovir / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transplant Recipients


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Ganciclovir