Evidence supporting the use of therapeutic drug monitoring of ganciclovir in transplantation

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2023 Dec 1;36(6):505-513. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000965. Epub 2023 Sep 19.


Purpose of review: This review describes current knowledge of ganciclovir (GCV) and valganciclovir (ValGCV) pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic characteristics, highlighting the likely contribution from host genetic factors to interpatient variability. The evidence and challenges surrounding optimization of drug dosing through therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) are examined, with recommendations made.

Recent findings: Pharmacokinetic studies of current dosing guidelines have shown high interindividual and intraindividual variability of GCV concentrations. This is sometimes associated with a slow decline in cytomegalovirus (CMV) viral load in some transplant recipients. A high incidence of GCV-associated myelosuppression has limited the use of this drug in the transplant setting. Patient groups identified to benefit from GCV TDM include pediatric patients, cystic fibrosis with lung transplantation, obese with kidney transplantation, and patients with fluctuating renal function or on hemodialysis. The emergence of refractory resistant CMV, particularly in immune compromised patients, highlights the importance of appropriate dosing of these antivirals. Host genetic factors need to be considered where recently, two host genes were shown to account for interpatient variation during ganciclovir therapy. Therapeutic Drug Monitoring has been shown to improve target antiviral-level attainment. The use of TDM may guide concentration-based dose adjustment, potentially improving virological and clinical outcomes. However, evidence supporting the use of TDM in clinical practice remains limited and further study is needed in the transplant cohort.

Summary: Further studies examining novel biomarkers are needed to guide target concentrations in prophylaxis and treatment. The use of TDM in transplant recipients is likely to improve the clinical efficacy of current antivirals and optimize outcomes in transplant recipients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Child
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections* / prevention & control
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Ganciclovir / pharmacology
  • Ganciclovir / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Organ Transplantation* / adverse effects


  • Ganciclovir
  • Antiviral Agents