Does valganciclovir hydrochloride (Valcyte) provide effective prophylaxis against cytomegalovirus infection in liver transplant recipients?

Ashokkumar Jain, M. Orloff, R. Kashyap, K. Lansing, R. Betts, R. Mohanka, M. Menegus, C. Ryan, A. Bozorgzadeh

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Introduction. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection after solid organ transplantation is one of the most common viral infections, causing significant morbidity and mortality if not treated promptly. Ganciclovir has proven to be effective for the prophylaxis and treatment of CMV. However, oral absorption of ganciclovir is poor. Recently, oral administration of valganciclovir hydrochloride (Valcyte) has been observed to display 10-fold better absorption than oral ganciclovir. Valganciclovir has increasingly been used as prophylaxis against CMV after solid organ transplantation. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of valganciclovir prophylaxis therapy after primary liver transplantation. Patients and Methods. Between July 2001 and May 2003, 203 consecutive liver transplant recipients, including 129 men and 74 women of overall mean age 53 ± 11 years, received valganciclovir (900 mg/d or 450 mg every other day depending on renal function) for 3 to 6 months after primary liver transplantation. All patients were followed up for a minimum of 6 months. Mean follow-up was 19 ± 5.8 months. CMV DNA in peripheral blood was tested using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification. Symptomatic CMV was stratified according to the CMV immunoglobulin (Ig)G status of the donor and recipient at the time of liver transplantation. Donors and recipients were classified preoperatively into groups according to the presence or absence of CMV as follows: group 1 (n = 73; donor CMV+, recipient CMV+); group 2 (n = 41; donor CMV-, recipient CMV-); group 3 (n = 54; donor CMV+, recipient CMV-; high-risk group); and group 4 (n = 35; donor CMV-, recipient CMV-). Results. Twenty-nine patients (14.3%) developed symptomatic CMV disease at 169 ± 117 days after liver transplantation: group 1, 16.4% versus group 2, 7.3% versus group 3, 25.9% versus group 4, 0%. Of these patients, 5 also had invasive CMV on liver biopsy, which was performed owing to abnormal liver functions. All 29 patients were treated with intravenous ganciclovir. One patient died owing to disseminated CMV, whereas the remaining 28 patients responded to treatment. Interestingly, 8 patients, including 1 who had invasive CMV hepatitis, developed symptomatic CMV within 90 days of liver transplantation even while on prophylactic valganciclovir. Conclusion. Valganciclovir failed to provide adequate prophylaxis following liver transplantation in our patients. The overall rate of CMV in seropositive donors and/or recipients was 17%, and in the high-risk group was 26%. Further prospective studies with measurement of ganciclovir concentrations are needed to elucidate the reasons for this unexpected failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3182-3186
Number of pages5
JournalTransplantation proceedings
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Transplantation


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