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Post-Transplant Events

Impact on the cytomegalovirus (CMV) viral load by CMV-specific T-cell immunity in recipients of allogeneic stem cell transplantation


Patients experience cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation after stem cell transplantation (SCT) and need repeated courses of pre-emptive therapy. Analysis of CMV-specific immunity might help to assess the need for antiviral therapy. Forty-eight patients were studied during the first 3 months after SCT. Peripheral blood lymphocytes were stimulated by CMV antigen, and interferon (INF)-γ production by CD3+ and CD4+ T cells was analysed. Results were correlated to transplant factors and CMV disease. Patients with INF-γ production by CD3+ cells at 4 weeks after SCT had lower peak viral loads than patients with no such production (P=0.03). There was a similar tendency as regards CD4+ cells (P=0.09). Patients who underwent reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC) more frequently had CD3+ (48%) and CD4+ immunity (56%) 4 weeks after SCT compared with patients who received myeloablative conditioning (CD3+ 25%; CD4+ 35%). There was no effect of stem cell source, donor type or acute graft-versus-host disease. Three of 48 patients developed CMV disease and none of them had detectable INF-γ production. CMV-specific T-cell response is associated with a lower rate of CMV replication. RIC results in improved T-cell reconstitution. Recovery of CMV-specific immunity might be delayed in patients with CMV disease. These observations suggest that detection of CMV-specific T-cells is useful in assessing the immunity against CMV.

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We thank Hernán Concha Quezada for skilful technical support with flow cytometry. This study was supported by the Swedish Cancer Fund and research funds of the Karolinska Institutet. Gayane Avetisyan was the recipient of a scholarship from the Swedish Institute.

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Correspondence to G Avetisyan.

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Avetisyan, G., Larsson, K., Aschan, J. et al. Impact on the cytomegalovirus (CMV) viral load by CMV-specific T-cell immunity in recipients of allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Bone Marrow Transplant 38, 687–692 (2006).

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  • cytomegalovirus
  • stem cell transplantation
  • immune recovery
  • viral load

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