Multicenter study of universal prophylaxis versus pre-emptive therapy for patients at intermediate risk (R+) for CMV following heart transplantation

Joseph B. Lerman, Cynthia L. Green, Maria R. Molina, Valmiki Maharaj, Juan M. Ortega-Legaspi, Sounok Sen, Maureen Flattery, Eileen K. Maziarz, Keyur B. Shah, Cindy M. Martin, Tamas Alexy, Palak Shah, Alanna A. Morris, Adam D. DeVore, Robert T. Cole

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Introduction: Heart transplant (HT) recipients with prior exposure to cytomegalovirus (CMV R+) are considered intermediate risk for CMV-related complications. Consensus guidelines allow for either universal prophylaxis (UP) or preemptive therapy (PET) (serial CMV testing) approaches to CMV prevention in such patients. Whether an optimal approach to mitigate CMV related risks exists in this setting remains uncertain. We therefore assessed the utility of PET as compared to UP in CMV R+ HT recipients. Methods: Retrospective analysis of all CMV R+ HT recipients from 6 U.S. centers between 2010 and 2018 was performed. The primary outcome was the development of CMV DNAemia or end-organ disease resulting in the initiation/escalation of anti-CMV therapy. The secondary outcome was CMV-related hospitalization. Additional outcomes included incidence of acute cellular rejection (ACR) ≥ grade 2R, death, cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV), and leukopenia. Results: Of 563 CMV R+ HT recipients, 344 (61.1%) received UP. PET was associated with increased risk for the primary (adjusted HR 3.95, 95% CI: 2.65–5.88, p <.001) and secondary (adjusted HR 3.19, 95% CI: 1.47–6.94, p =.004) outcomes, and with increased ACR ≥ grade 2R (PET 59.4% vs. UP 34.4%, p <.001). Incidence of detectable CAV was similar at 1 year (PET 8.2% vs. UP 9.5%, p =.698). UP was associated with increased incidence of leukopenia within 6 months post-HT (PET 34.7% vs. UP 43.6%, p =.036). Conclusion: The use of a PET CMV prophylaxis strategy in intermediate risk HT recipients associated with increased risk of CMV infection and CMV-related hospitalization, and may associate with worse post-HT graft outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere15065
JournalClinical Transplantation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023

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© 2023 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • cytomegalovirus (cmv)
  • cytomegalovirus prophylaxis
  • heart transplantation
  • opportunistic infections
  • pre-emptive therapy
  • universal prophylaxis


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