Letermovir Resistance Analysis in a Clinical Trial of Cytomegalovirus Prophylaxis for Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Recipients

Cameron M Douglas, Richard Barnard, Daniel Holder, Randi Leavitt, Diane Levitan, Maureen Maguire, David Nickle, Valerie Teal, Hong Wan, Dirk C J G van Alewijk, Leen-Jan van Doorn, Sunwen Chou, Julie Strizki
Journal of Infectious Diseases 2019 November 29

BACKGROUND: Letermovir (LET), a cytomegalovirus (CMV) deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) terminase inhibitor, was recently approved for prophylaxis of CMV infection in adult CMV-seropositive recipients of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Cytomegalovirus genotyping was performed to identify LET-resistance-associated variants (RAVs) among subjects in a Phase 3 trial.

METHODS: The CMV UL56 and UL89 genes, encoding subunits of CMV DNA terminase, were sequenced from plasma collected from subjects with clinically significant CMV infection (CS-CMVi). Novel variants were evaluated by recombinant phenotyping to assess their potential to confer resistance to LET.

RESULTS: Genotyping was successful for 50 of 79 LET subjects with CS-CMVi. Resistance-associated variants (encoding pUL56 V236M and C325W) were detected independently in subjects 1 and 3 who experienced CS-CMVi while receiving LET prophylaxis, and 2 other variants (encoding pUL56 E237G and R369T) were detected >3 weeks after subjects 2 and 3, respectively, had discontinued LET prophylaxis and received preemptive therapy with ganciclovir.

CONCLUSIONS: The detected incidence of CMV resistance among subjects who received LET as prophylaxis in this Phase 3 trial was low. The LET RAVs that were detected mapped to the CMV UL56 gene at positions associated with reduced susceptibility to LET based on resistance selections in cell culture.

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