Frequent Occurrence of Cytomegalovirus Retinitis During Immune Reconstitution Warrants Regular Ophthalmic Screening in High-Risk Pediatric Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Recipients

Hiwarkar et al., Clinical Infectious Diseases (2014) - PMID: 24700657

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Although cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis (CMVR) is a well-recognized complication after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), standard operating procedures for ophthalmic monitoring are variable. In particular, authors perceived a greater risk of CMVR after pediatric HSCT for inherited immunodeficiencies, in patients who often have pretransplantation viremia. This study was therefore performed to identify high-risk pediatric HSCT recipients who would benefit from regular ophthalmic monitoring.


During a 5-year study period, we retrospectively analyzed findings in 56 of 304 consecutive HSCT recipients (age range, 0.5-197 months) in whom significant CMV viremia developed (CMV level at PCR, ≥4000 copies/mL). All HSCT recipients with significant CMV viremia underwent retinal examination weekly (inpatients) or every other week (outpatients), with examinations performed by a skilled ophthalmologist.


CMVR developed in 13 (4%) of 304 HSCT recipients, 23% (13 of 56) of those with significant CMV viremia. Pretransplant viremia (odds ratio, 11.3; P < .01), acute (grade ≥2) graft-vs-host disease (odds ratio, 8.2; P < .02) and mismatched graft (odds ratio, 8; P < .02) were identified as independent risk factors. Compared with other invasive CMV diseases, CMVR was more often a late-onset disease, occurring at a median of 199 days after HSCT. At diagnosis, a significantly higher CD4 T-cell count (≥200/µL; P < .03) and a lower CMV load (P < .004) was observed in children with CMVR, compared with those in whom lung, gut, or liver CMV disease developed.


We report an increased risk of CMVR in high-risk pediatric HSCT recipients. This form of CMV disease differs from other invasive CMV disease in its relationship to immune reconstitution and viral dynamics. We have studied the relationship between these variables and suggested a risk-stratified ophthalmic screening strategy.

© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail:


CMV retinitis, paediatric HSCT; Cytomegalovirus (CMV); ophthalmic screening

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