Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in pediatric solid organ transplant (SOT) recipients. However, the impact of asymptomatic CMV infections (ie, DNAemia) on clinical outcomes is not well established.
Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of children undergoing first SOT at our institution from January 2012 to June 2018. We evaluated the epidemiology of CMV infections and performed multivariable Cox regression to assess the association between CMV DNAemia without disease or CMV disease (syndrome or end-organ disease) on negative outcomes (death, re-transplantation, or moderate/severe rejection) within the first year after SOT.
Results: Among 271 individuals, 43 (15.9%) developed ≥1 CMV infection during the first year after SOT. There were 56 unique CMV infections including 14 episodes of CMV disease. In 167 patients offered CMV prophylaxis, only 8 (4.8%) developed their first CMV DNAemia episode while on prophylaxis 32 developed CMV DNAemia after prophylaxis completion; only 1 episode of CMV disease occurred while on antiviral prophylaxis. When accounting for receipt of ATG, oral steroids, and number of immunosuppressives on a given day, CMV disease was more strongly associated with negative outcomes (Hazard Ratio (HR): 3.28, 95% CI: 0.73–14.64; p = .12) than CMV DNAemia without disease (HR 1.42, 95% CI: 0.19– 10.79; p = .74), although not to a statistically significant degree.
Conclusions: Most CMV infections occurred after completion of antiviral prophylaxis. CMV disease was more strongly associated with negative outcomes than asymptomatic CMV DNAemia and should be the focus of CMV prevention practices.