Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Systematic Review
Add like
Add dislike
Add to saved papers

Antiviral medications for preventing cytomegalovirus disease in solid organ transplant recipients.

BACKGROUND: The risk of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in solid organ transplant recipients has resulted in the frequent use of prophylaxis to prevent the clinical syndrome associated with CMV infection. This is an update of a review first published in 2005 and updated in 2008 and 2013.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the benefits and harms of antiviral medications to prevent CMV disease and all-cause death in solid organ transplant recipients.

SEARCH METHODS: We contacted the information specialist and searched the Cochrane Kidney and Transplant Register of Studies up to 5 February 2024 using search terms relevant to this review. Studies in the Register are identified through searches of CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and EMBASE, conference proceedings, the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) Search Portal, and

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs comparing antiviral medications with placebo or no treatment, comparing different antiviral medications or different regimens of the same antiviral medications for CMV prophylaxis in recipients of any solid organ transplant. Studies examining pre-emptive therapy for CMV infection are studied in a separate review and were excluded from this review.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently assessed study eligibility, risk of bias and extracted data. Summary estimates of effect were obtained using a random-effects model, and results were expressed as risk ratios (RR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) for dichotomous outcomes and mean difference (MD) and 95% CI for continuous outcomes. Confidence in the evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach.

MAIN RESULTS: This 2024 update found four new studies, bringing the total number of included studies to 41 (5054 participants). The risk of bias was high or unclear across most studies, with a low risk of bias for sequence generation (12), allocation concealment (12), blinding (11) and selective outcome reporting (9) in fewer studies. There is high-certainty evidence that prophylaxis with aciclovir, ganciclovir or valaciclovir compared with placebo or no treatment is more effective in preventing CMV disease (19 studies: RR 0.42, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.52), all-cause death (17 studies: RR 0.63, 95% CI 0.43 to 0.92), and CMV infection (17 studies: RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.48 to 0.77). There is moderate-certainty evidence that prophylaxis probably reduces death from CMV disease (7 studies: RR 0.26, 95% CI 0.08 to 0.78). Prophylaxis reduces the risk of herpes simplex and herpes zoster disease, bacterial and protozoal infections but probably makes little to no difference to fungal infection, acute rejection or graft loss. No apparent differences in adverse events with aciclovir, ganciclovir or valaciclovir compared with placebo or no treatment were found. There is high certainty evidence that ganciclovir, when compared with aciclovir, is more effective in preventing CMV disease (7 studies: RR 0.37, 95% CI 0.23 to 0.60). There may be little to no difference in any outcome between valganciclovir and IV ganciclovir compared with oral ganciclovir (low certainty evidence). The efficacy and adverse effects of valganciclovir or ganciclovir were probably no different to valaciclovir in three studies (moderate certainty evidence). There is moderate certainty evidence that extended duration prophylaxis probably reduces the risk of CMV disease compared with three months of therapy (2 studies: RR 0.20, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.35), with probably little to no difference in rates of adverse events. Low certainty evidence suggests that 450 mg/day valganciclovir compared with 900 mg/day valganciclovir results in little to no difference in all-cause death, CMV infection, acute rejection, and graft loss (no information on adverse events). Maribavir may increase CMV infection compared with ganciclovir (1 study: RR 1.34, 95% CI: 1.10 to 1.65; moderate certainty evidence); however, little to no difference between the two treatments were found for CMV disease, all-cause death, acute rejection, and adverse events at six months (low certainty evidence).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Prophylaxis with antiviral medications reduces CMV disease and CMV-associated death, compared with placebo or no treatment, in solid organ transplant recipients. These data support the continued routine use of antiviral prophylaxis in CMV-positive recipients and CMV-negative recipients of CMV-positive organ transplants.

Full text links

We have located links that may give you full text access.
Can't access the paper?
Try logging in through your university/institutional subscription. For a smoother one-click institutional access experience, please use our mobile app.

Related Resources

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

Mobile app image

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2024 by WebMD LLC.
This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.

By using this service, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.

Your Privacy Choices Toggle icon

You can now claim free CME credits for this literature searchClaim now

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app