Product(s) used in this publication: PepMix™ Peptide Pools
CMV and varicella zoster virus (VZV) are significant causes of morbidity and mortality following umbilical cord blood transplantation (UCBT). However, the kinetics of reconstitution and protective potential of antiviral cell-mediated immune responses following UCBT remain poorly characterized. In this study, the reconstitution of CMV- and VZV-specific T cell responses was assessed using IFN-γ ELISPOT in 28 children who underwent UCBT to treat hematological or inherited disorders. Barely detectable in the first 3 mo posttransplantation, CMV- and VZV-specific T cell responses were observed in 30.4% and 40.3% of study subjects after 36 mo of follow-up. Four of five CMV-seropositive subjects developed detectable levels of circulating CMV DNA (DNAemia), and 5 of 17 VZV-seropositive patients experienced herpes zoster during the posttransplant period. Four CMV-seronegative subjects developed IFN-γ responses against CMV, and four subjects developed a VZV-specific IFN-γ response without clinical signs of infection. No CMV- or VZV-related events were observed in study subjects following the development of CMV- or VZV-specific responses > 150 spot-forming units/10(6) PBMCs, consistent with T cell-mediated protection. Finally, famciclovir prophylaxis did not strictly prevent the reconstitution of the VZV-specific T cell repertoire, because the frequency of T cells producing IFN-γ in response to VZV Ags reached levels consistent with protection in two nonzoster subjects. Monitoring of CMV- and VZV-specific cell-mediated immunity could inform immunocompetence and guide the initiation and cessation of antiherpetic prophylaxis in UCBT recipients.