Letermovir for the prevention of cytomegalovirus infection and disease in transplant recipients: An evidence-based review

Guy El Helou, Raymund R. Razonable

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a leading opportunistic infection in immune compromised patients, including allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell (HSCT) or solid organ transplant (SOT) recipients, where primary infection or reactivation is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Antiviral drugs are the mainstay for the prevention of CMV infection and disease, most commonly with valganciclovir. However, valganciclovir use is often associated with adverse drug reactions, most notably leukopenia and neutropenia, and its widespread use has led to emergence of antiviral resistance. Foscarnet and cidofovir, however, are associated with nephrotoxicity. Letermovir, a novel CMV viral terminase inhibitor drug, was recently approved for CMV prophylaxis in allogeneic HSCT recipients. It has a favorable pharmacokinetic and tolerability profile. The aim of this paper is to review the evidence supporting the use of letermovir in allogeneic HSCT recipients, and how the drug impacts our contemporary clinical practice. In addition, we discuss the ongoing clinical trial of letermovir for the prevention of CMV in SOT recipients. The use of letermovir for treatment of CMV infection and disease is not yet approved. However, because of a unique mechanism of activity, we provide our perspective on the potential role of letermovir in the treatment of ganciclovir-resistant CMV infection and disease. Furthermore, drug-resistant CMV has emerged during use of letermovir for prophylaxis and treatment. Caution is advised on its use in order to preserve its therapeutic lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1481-1491
Number of pages11
JournalInfection and Drug Resistance
StatePublished - 2019


  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Letermovir
  • Transplantation
  • UL56
  • UL97
  • Valganciclovir

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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