During a 38-month period, we studied 320 liver trans-plants in 283 recipients (202 adults, 81 children). CMV disease was documented in 85 patients (30.0%). The major risk factor for CMV disease was primary CMV exposure (transplanting a seropositive allograft into a seronegative recipient). A total of 42 patients (14.8%) had primary CMV exposure. Twenty-one patients were historical controls, while the next 21 received prophylaxis for CMV infection in a nonrandomized trial of consecutive study groups. The regimen of prophylaxis consisted of intravenous immune globulin (IgG; 0.5 g/kg) at weekly intervals for 6 weeks and acyclovir for 3 months. CMV prophylaxis resulted in a dramatic reduction in the incidence of CMV disease (71.4% vs. 23.8%, P<0.0l). All cases of CMV were treated with intravenous ganciclovir (5 mg/kg b.i.d. for 14 days), with 5 patients in the control group developing recurrent CMV disease (33.3% relapse). In the 16 patients receiving prophylaxis who did not develop CMV disease, all de-veloped positive CMV-IgG titers with the passive ad-ministration of IgG. However, none developed any evi-dence of CMV infection or viral shedding as assessed by IgM titers and surveillance viral cultures. Four deaths occurred (all control patients), but none were related to CMV disease. Overall patient and graft survivals after primary CMV exposure were 90.5% and 82.2%, respectively, after a mean follow-up of 14 months. Conclusion: Primary CMV exposure is a major risk factor for CMV disease in liver transplant recipients. Intravenous IgG plus acyclovir is safe and effective in preventing CMV infection and disease in this setting. Because of the scarcity of donor organs, we do not advocate protective matching to avoid primary CMV exposure but rather recommend prophylaxis to prevent CMV disease in this high-risk group.
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