Product(s) used in this publication: PepMix™ Peptide Pools
Human Cytomegalovirus (CMV) can lead to primary infection or reactivation in CMV-seronegative or -seropositive kidney transplant recipients, respectively. Complications comprise severe end-organ diseases and acute or chronic transplant rejection. Risk for CMV manifestation is stratified according to the CMV-IgG-serostatus, with donor+/recipient- (D+/R-) patients carrying the highest risk for CMV-replication. However, risk factors predisposing for primary infection in CMV-seronegative recipients are still not fully elucidated. Therefore, we monitored D+/R- high-risk patients undergoing kidney transplantation in combination with antiviral prophylaxis for the incidence of CMV-viremia for a median follow-up time of 784 days (156-1155 days). In this period, we analyzed the functional CMV-specific T cell response by intracellular cytokine staining and CMV-serology by ELISA. Only four of eight D+/R- patients developed clinically relevant CMV-viremia followed by seroconversion. Viremia triggered expansion of functional CMV-specific T cells correlating with protection against secondary CMV-reactivations. In contrast, all other patients remained permanently aviremic and showed no immunological correlate of infection after discontinuation of antiviral prophylaxis for up to three years. Comparing cold ischemic times (CIT) of viremic (median = 1020 min; 720-1080 min) and aviremic patients (median = 335 min; 120-660 min) revealed significantly (p = 0.0286) protracted CIT in patients with primary CMV-infection. Taken together, primary CMV-infection affects only a subgroup of D+/R- patients correlating with length of CIT. Therefore, patients with extended CIT should be thoroughly monitored for CMV-replication well beyond discontinuation of antiviral prophylaxis. In contrast, patients with short CIT remained permanently uninfected and might benefit from shorter prophylactic treatment.