Discontinuation of maintenance therapy in patients with quiescent cytomegalovirus retinitis and elevated CD4+ counts

Ophthalmology. 1998 Jul;105(7):1259-64. doi: 10.1016/S0161-6420(98)97031-2.


Objective: To determine whether maintenance therapy can be discontinued safety in patients with quiescent cytomegalovirus retinitis (CMVR) and increased CD4+ counts after treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).

Design: A prospective observational case series.

Participants: Eight human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive patients with quiescent CMVR who were taking HAART and had CD4+ counts above 100 cells/microliter elected to discontinue anti-CMV maintenance treatment.

Intervention: Biweekly-to-monthly indirect ophthalmoscopy and fundus photographs, monthly-to-quarterly CD4+ counts, and quarterly HIV viral loads were ordered.

Main outcome measures: Twelve previously affected eyes were examined for evidence of recurrent retinitis, which was defined as any retinal whitening, border opacification, or expansion of areas of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) atrophy greater than 750 microns. Four previously unaffected fellow eyes were observed for new CMVR.

Results: There was no reactivation or progression of retinitis in any patient during the mean follow-up interval of 11.4 months (range, 3-16 months). No previously unaffected eye developed CMVR. CD4+ remained elevated in all patients (range, 70-725; mean, 255). The HIV viral load ranged from undetectable to 139,000 copies.

Conclusion: Discontinuation of maintenance therapy may be considered in patients with HAART-induced elevated CD4+ counts above 100 cells/microliter, prolonged relapse-free intervals during the reconstitution period before CD4+ counts rise above 100 cells/microliter, and completely quiescent retinitis characterized by RPE scarring only. Reduced risks of drug toxicity and drug-resistant organisms are potential benefits. Close observation for evidence of recurrent retinitis is indicated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / drug therapy*
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / immunology
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / pathology
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cytomegalovirus / growth & development
  • Cytomegalovirus Retinitis / drug therapy*
  • Cytomegalovirus Retinitis / immunology
  • Cytomegalovirus Retinitis / pathology
  • Fundus Oculi
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Viral Load
  • Virus Activation


  • Antiviral Agents