We prospectively studied the utility of the amplification of cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA in the sera of liver transplant recipients in order to predict symptomatic CMV infection, thus enabling preemptive therapy with antiviral agents. Serum samples obtained at biweekly intervals from 20 sequential liver transplant recipients for at least 8 weeks following transplantation were tested by the PCR amplification procedure. Results were correlated with blood and urine cultures, histopathological findings from infected organs, and clinical manifestations. Six patients (30%) developed symptomatic CMV infection; in five (83%) of these patients, CMV DNA was detected prior to symptomatic CMV infection, and in one (17%) of these patients, CMV DNA was detected at the time of symptomatic CMV infection. CMV DNA was detected a mean of 13 days (range, 0 to 23 days) prior to the onset of symptomatic CMV infection. In addition, CMV DNA was detected in the sera of four of five patients with asymptomatic viremia and two patients with asymptomatic viruria. Lastly, the PCR was negative for sera from seven patients with no evidence of CMV infection. We found that PCR was able to detect the presence of CMV DNA in the sera of liver transplant recipients at a sensitivity of 92% and a specificity of 100% for CMV infection, while the sensitivity and specificity for symptomatic infection were 100 and 57%, respectively.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)