Enzyme-Linked Immunospot Assay as a Complementary Method to Assess and Monitor Cytomegalovirus Infection in Kidney Transplant Recipients on Pre-emptive Antiviral Therapy: A Single-Center Experience

E. Favi, R. Santangelo, S. Iesari, M. Morandi, G. E. Marcovecchio, E. M. Trecarichi, M. P. Salerno, M. Ferraresso, F. Citterio, J. Romagnoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background Cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease represents a major cause of post-transplantation morbidity and mortality. To estimate the risk of infection and monitor response to antiviral therapy, current guidelines suggest combination of viral load monitoring with direct assessment of CMV-specific immune response. We used enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) for the evaluation of CMV-specific T-cell response in kidney transplant recipients with CMV viremia and investigated how information gained could help manage CMV infection. Methods Seventeen patients on pre-emptive antiviral therapy and CMV quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) ≥500 copies/mL (first episode after transplantation) were assessed using ELISpot and divided into Weak (9 patients with baseline ELISpot <25 spot-forming colonies [SFCs]/200,000 peripheral blood mononuclear cells [PBMCs]) and Strong Responders (8 patients with baseline ELISpot ≥25 SFCs/200,000 PBMCs). CMV-specific T-cell response, infection severity, viral load, and antiviral therapy were prospectively recorded and compared between groups at 1, 2, and 24 months of follow-up. Results Demographic and transplant characteristics of Weak and Strong Responders were similar. No episodes of CMV disease were observed. Weak Responders were more likely to experience CMV syndrome (56% vs 36.5%) and late virus reactivation (56% vs 25%) than Strong Responders. Weak Responders showed higher baseline median viral loads (19,700 vs 9265 copies/mL) and needed antiviral therapy for longer (179 vs 59.5 days). T-cell response showed 2 main patterns: early and delayed. Conclusions ELISpot provides prognostic information about infection severity, risk of late reactivation, and response to therapy. Randomized trials, evaluating the need for antiviral therapy in kidney transplant recipients with asymptomatic infection and effective virus-specific T-cell immune response, are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1766-1772
Number of pages7
JournalTransplantation Proceedings
Volume49
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Transplantation

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