Impact of human metapneumovirus and human cytomegalovirus versus other respiratory viruses on the lower respiratory tract infections of lung transplant recipients

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Viral respiratory tract infections in lung transplant recipients may be severe. During three consecutive winter-spring seasons, 49 symptomatic lung transplant recipients with suspected respiratory viral infection, and 26 asymptomatic patients were investigated for presence of respiratory viruses either in 56 nasopharyngeal aspirate or 72 bronchoalveolar lavage samples taken at different times after transplantation. On the whole, 1 asymptomatic (3.4%) and 28 symptomatic (57.1%) patients were positive for human metapneumovirus (hMPV, 4 patients), influenza virus A (3 patients), and B (2 patients), respiratory syncytial virus (2 patients), human coronavirus (2 patients), human parainfluenza virus (2 patients), rhinovirus (5 patients), while 4 patients were coinfected by 2 respiratory viruses, and 5 were infected sequentially by 2 or more respiratory viruses. In bronchoalveolar lavage samples, hMPV predominated by far over the other viruses, being responsible for 60% of positive specimens, whereas other viruses were present in nasopharyngeal aspirates at a comparable rate. RT-PCR (detecting 43 positive samples/128 examined) was largely superior to monoclonal antibodies (detecting 17 positive samples only). In addition, HCMV was detected in association with a respiratory virus in 4/18 HCMV-positive patients, and was found at a high concentration (>105 DNA copies/ml) in 3/16 (18.7%) patients with HCMV-positive bronchoalveolar lavage samples and pneumonia. Coinfections and sequential infections by HCMV and respiratory viruses were significantly more frequent in patients with acute rejection and steroid treatment. In conclusion: (i) about 50% of respiratory tract infections of lung transplant recipients were associated with one or more respiratory viruses; (ii) hMPV largely predominates in bronchoalveolar lavage of symptomatic lung transplant recipients, thus suggesting a causative role in lower respiratory tract infections; (iii) RT-PCR appears to be the method of choice for detection of respiratory viruses in lung transplant recipients, (iv) a high HCMV load in bronchoalveolar lavage is a risk factor for viral pneumonia, suggesting some measure of intervention for the control of viral infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-416
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • Bronchoalveolar lavage
  • Human cytomegalovirus
  • Human metapneumovirus
  • Lung transplant recipients
  • Nasopharyngeal aspirates
  • Respiratory tract viral infections
  • Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


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