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Hematology - Immunology - Infectious Diseases


Monitoring of Human Cytomegalovirus and Virus-Specific T-Cell Response in Young Patients Receiving Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Author: Daniele Lilleri et al.

by Daniele Lilleri, Giuseppe Gerna, Paola Zelini, Antonella Chiesa, Vanina Rognoni, Angela Mastronuzzi, Giovanna Giorgiani, Marco Zecca, Franco Locatelli

In allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) recipients, outcome of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection results from balance between viral load/replication and pathogen-specific T-cell response. Using a cut-off of 30,000 HCMV DNA copies/ml blood for pre-emptive therapy and cut-offs of 1 and 3 virus-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells/┬Ál blood for T-cell protection, we conducted in 131 young patients a prospective 3-year study aimed at verifying whether achievement of such immunological cut-offs protects from HCMV disease. In the first three months after transplantation, 55/89 (62%) HCMV-seropositive patients had infection and 36/55 (65%) were treated pre-emptively, whereas only 7/42 (17%) HCMV-seronegative patients developed infection and 3/7 (43%) were treated. After 12 months, 76 HCMV-seropositive and 9 HCMV-seronegative patients (cumulative incidence: 90% and 21%, respectively) displayed protective HCMV-specific immunity. Eighty of these 85 (95%) patients showed spontaneous control of HCMV infection without additional treatment. Five patients after reaching protective T-cell levels needed pre-emptive therapy, because they developed graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). HSCT recipients reconstituting protective levels of HCMV-specific T-cells in the absence of GvHD are no longer at risk for HCMV disease, at least within 3 years after transplantation. The decision to treat HCMV infection in young HSCT recipients may be taken by combining virological and immunological findings.
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