Ramdomized clinical trial of ganciclovir vs acyclovir for prevention of cytomegalovirus antigenemia after allogeneic transplantation

L. J. Burns, W. Miller, C. Kandaswamy, T. E. DeFor, M. L. MacMillan, J. A. Van Burik, D. J. Weisdorf

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39 Scopus citations


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease remains a major cause of morbidity following allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT). In a prospective randomized trial, we tested prophylactic therapy with ganciclovir or acyclovir for patients at high risk of disease. Ninety-one CMV seropositive recipients of related (n = 53) and unrelated (n = 38) donor transplants were enrolled. All patients received intravenous (i.v.) ganciclovir 5 mg/kg every 12 h days -7 to -2, followed by acyclovir 10 mg/kg i.v. every 8 h from day -1 until neutrophil engraftment. Patients were then randomly assigned to either ganciclovir (n = 45) or acyclovir (n = 46) until day 100 post transplant. Any degree of antigenemia was treated with ganciclovir 5 mg/kg i.v. twice a day for 2 weeks, followed by 5 mg/kg i.v. each weekday for 6 weeks. At day 100, the cumulative incidence of antigenemia was 31% (95% CI 17-45%) for ganciclovir and 41% (95% CI 26-56%) (P=0.22) for acyclovir prophylaxis, respectively. The assigned prophylaxis cohort did not predict for CMV antigenemia. The cumulative incidence of CMV disease at 12 months was 13% (95% CI 3-23%) and 17% (95% CI 6-28%) (P=0.59) for the ganciclovir- and acyclovir-treated groups, respectively. An absolute neutrophil count (ANC) ≤1500 × 106/l at randomization (P < 0.01) and grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host-disease (P=0.01), but not the assigned prophylaxis cohort (P=0.62), were independent risk factors for CMV disease. The incidence of fungal infections and renal insufficiency was similar across treatment groups; however, bacterial infections and secondary neutropenia occurred more frequently in the ganciclovir group. With our study powered to detect a 60% reduction in antigenemia with ganciclovir prophylaxis, we did not find a statistically significant difference between ganciclovir and acyclovir when used as part of an overall strategy for prevention of CMV antigenemia and disease in SCT, although fewer side-effects occurred with acyclovir treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)945-951
Number of pages7
JournalBone marrow transplantation
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2002


  • Acyclovir
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Ganciclovir
  • Randomized clinical trial


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