Combined antiviral and immunoglobulin therapy as prophylaxis against cytomegalovirus infection after heart transplantation

M. Valenza, L. S.C. Czer*, S. H. Pan, I. Aleksic, D. Freimark, D. A. Harasty, D. Admon, P. Barath, C. Blanche, A. Trento

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cytomegalovirus is a frequent cause of infection and morbidity after heart transplantation, especially in patients treated with antilymphocytic drugs where the incidence may be as high as 50%. Methods: To determine the efficacy of combined antiviral and intravenous immune globulin therapy for prevention of cytomegalovirus disease in transplant recipients receiving OKT3 and to compare two different antiviral drug regimens, we reviewed 115 transplant recipients from December 1988 to December 1993 who survived for more than 30 days. Of these, 29 received oral acyclovir for 3 months (group A) and 86 received intravenous ganciclovir for 2 weeks followed by oral acyclovir up to 3 months (group G); all received six infusions of 5% intravenous immune globulin over 2 months. All patients had OKT3 for 10 to 14 days and triple-drug immunosuppression. Results: Cytomegalovirus disease (pneumonitis, gastroenteritis, or leukopenia with fever) occurred in 10% of patients (12 of 115 patients) and was confirmed by positive culture, typical microscopic inclusions, or polymerase chain reaction. In 91 seropositive recipients, there was a trend to less cytomegalovirus disease in group G (3.0%, 2 of 67 patients) than in group A (12.5%, 3 of 24 patients) (p = 0.11), which was more apparent in recipients with seropositive donors where the incidence was reduced from 16.7% (group A) to 2.4% (group G; p = 0.08). In 24 seronegative recipients, cytomegalovirus disease incidence was higher overall and not significantly less in group G (26%, 5 of 19 patients) than in group A (40%, two of five patients) (p = Not significant). Conclusions: Prophylaxis with combined antiviral and immune globulin therapy produces a low (10%) incidence of cytomegalovirus disease in OKT3-treated heart transplant recipients. In seropositive recipients treated with combined therapy, ganciclovir may be more effective than acyclovir. Larger trials and more aggressive prophylactic strategies are needed in seronegative patients who receive hearts from seropositive donors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-665
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


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