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Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction for detection of adenovirus after T cell-replete hematopoietic cell transplantation: viral load as a marker for invasive disease.

BACKGROUND: The value of adenovirus plasma DNA detection as an indicator for adenovirus disease is unknown in the context of T cell-replete hematopoietic cell transplantation, of which adenovirus disease is an uncommon but serious complication.

METHODS: Three groups of 62 T cell-replete hematopoietic cell transplant recipients were selected and tested for adenovirus in plasma by polymerase chain reaction.

RESULTS: Adenovirus was detected in 21 (87.5%) of 24 patients with proven adenovirus disease (group 1), in 4 (21%) of 19 patients who shed adenovirus (group 2), and in 1 (10.5%) of 19 uninfected control patients. The maximum viral load was significantly higher in group 1 (median maximum viral load, 6.3x10(6) copies/mL; range, 0 to 1.0x10(9) copies/mL) than in group 2 (median maximum viral load, 0 copies/mL; range, 0 to 1.7x10(8) copies/mL; P<.001) and in group 3 (median maximum viral load, 0 copies/mL; range 0-40 copies/mL; P<.001). All patients in group 2 who developed adenoviremia had symptoms compatible with adenovirus disease (i.e., possible disease). A minimal plasma viral load of 10(3) copies/mL was detected in all patients with proven or possible disease. Adenoviremia was detectable at a median of 19.5 days (range, 8-48 days) and 24 days (range, 9-41 days) before death for patients with proven and possible adenovirus disease, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Sustained or high-level adenoviremia appears to be a specific and sensitive indicator of adenovirus disease after T cell-replete hematopoietic cell transplantation. In the context of low prevalence of adenovirus disease, the use of polymerase chain reaction of plasma specimens to detect virus might be a valuable tool to identify and treat patients at risk for viral invasive disease.

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