Cytomegalovirus (CMV) antigenaemia for rapid diagnosis and monitoring of CMV-associated disease after bone marrow transplantation

Br J Haematol. 1994 Jan;86(1):130-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.1994.tb03263.x.


A technique for the rapid detection of cytomegalovirus (CMV) antigen-positive blood leucocytes (CMV antigenaemia) was evaluated in 15 marrow transplant patients as a means of diagnosis and for monitoring CMV-associated disease. CMV antigenaemia was determined by direct immunoperoxidase staining of leucocytes with a peroxidase-labelled monoclonal antibody, HRP-C7, which binds an immediate-early antigen of human CMV. CMV antigenaemia occurred in 7/15 marrow transplant patients (47%) and was initially detected between 4 and 6 weeks after transplantation. CMV-associated diseases developed in 3/15 patients (20%). All patients with CMV-associated disease had a relatively large number of CMV antigen-positive leucocytes, exceeding 10 per 50,000 white blood cells (WBCs). In the remaining 12 patients, CMV antigen-positive leucocytes were less than 10 per 50,000 WBCs or were undetectable. CMV-associated disease did not develop in these patients during the period of monitoring. CMV antigen-positive leucocytes were detected more frequently in patients who developed acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) or haemorrhagic cystitis than in those without such complications. CMV antigens were detectable from 1 to 4 weeks before the onset of CMV-associated disease which allowed initiation of ganciclovir treatment at an early stage. The degree of CMV antigenaemia paralleled the clinical symptoms and signs, higher degrees of antigenaemia being associated with more significant disease. Thus, the detection of CMV antigen-positive blood leucocytes is useful for the diagnosis and monitoring of CMV-associated disease following bone marrow transplantation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antigens, Viral / blood*
  • Antigens, Viral / urine
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation*
  • Cystitis / microbiology
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / microbiology
  • Hemorrhage / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Male
  • Time Factors


  • Antigens, Viral