Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common viral pathogen that influences the outcome of liver transplantation. In addition to the direct effects of CMV syndrome and tissue-invasive diseases, CMV is associated with an increased predisposition to acute and chronic allograft rejection, accelerated hepatitis C recurrence, and other opportunistic infections, as well as, reduced overall patient and allograft survival. Risk factors for CMV disease are often interrelated, and include CMV D+/R-serostatus, acute rejection, female gender, age, use of high-close mycophenolate mofetil and prednisone, and the overall state of immunity. In addition to the role of CMV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes, there are data to suggest that functionality of the innate immune system contributes to CMV disease pathogenesis. In one study, liver transplant recipients with a specific polymorphism in innate immune molecules known as Toll-like receptors were more likely to develop higher levels of CMV replication and clinical disease. Because of the direct and indirect adverse effects of CMV disease, its prevention, whether through antiviral prophylaxis or preemptive therapy, is an essential component in improving the outcome of liver transplantation. In the majority of transplant centers, antiviral prophylaxis is the preferred strategy over preemptive therapy for the prevention of CMV disease in CMV-seronegative recipients of liver allografts from CMV-seropositive donors (D+/R-). However, the major drawback of antiviral prophylaxis is the occurrence of delayed-onset primary CMV disease. In several prospective and retrospective studies, the incidence of delayed-onset primary CMV disease-ranged from 16% to 47% of CMV D+/R- liver transplant recipients. Current data suggests that delayed-onset CMV disease is associated with increased mortality after liver transplantation. Therefore, optimized strategies for prevention and novel drugs with unique modes of action are needed. Currently, a randomized controlled clinical trial is being performed comparing the efficacy and safety of maribavir, a novel benzimidazole riboside, and oral ganciclovir as prophylaxis against primary CMV disease in liver transplant recipients. The treatment of CMV disease consists mainly of intravenous (IV) ganciclovir, and if feasible, a reduction in the degree of immunosuppression. A recent controlled clinical trial demonstrated that valganciclovir is as effective and safe as IV ganciclovir for the treatment of CMV disease in solid organ (including liver) transplant recipients. In this article, the author reviews the current state and the future perspectives of prevention and treatment of CMV disease after,liver transplantation.
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