BACKGROUND: The survival of recipients of cardiac allografts is limited by rejection, lymphoproliferative disease, and coronary vasculopathy. The purpose of this study in children who had received heart transplants was to evaluate the cardiac allografts for myocardial viral infections and to determine whether the presence of viral genome in the myocardium correlates with rejection, coronary vasculopathy, or graft loss.
METHODS: We enrolled heart-transplant recipients 1 day to 18 years old who were undergoing evaluation for possible rejection and coronary vasculopathy. Endomyocardial-biopsy specimens were evaluated for evidence of rejection with the use of standard criteria and were analyzed for the presence of virus by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
RESULTS: PCR analyses were performed on 553 consecutive biopsy samples from 149 transplant recipients. Viral genome was amplified from 48 samples (8.7 percent) from 34 patients (23 percent); adenovirus was found in 30 samples, enterovirus in 9 samples, parvovirus in 5 samples, cytomegalovirus in 2 samples, herpes simplex virus in 1 sample, and Epstein-Barr virus in 1 sample. In 29 of the 34 patients with positive results on PCR (85 percent), an adverse cardiac event occurred within three months after the positive biopsy, and 9 of the 34 patients had graft loss due to coronary vasculopathy, chronic graft failure, or acute rejection. In 39 of the 115 patients with negative results on PCR (34 percent), an adverse cardiac event occurred within three months of the negative PCR finding; graft loss did not occur in any of the patients in this group. The odds of graft loss were 6.5 times as great among those with positive results on PCR (P=0.006). The detection of adenovirus was associated with considerably reduced graft survival (P=0.002).
CONCLUSIONS: Identification of viral genome, particularly adenovirus, in the myocardium of pediatric transplant recipients is predictive of adverse clinical events, including coronary vasculopathy and graft loss.
The New England journal of medicine
Adenoviridae; Adenoviridae Infections; Adolescent; Biopsy; Child; Child, Preschool; Coronary Disease; Follow-Up Studies; Genome, Viral; Graft Rejection; Heart; Heart Transplantation; Humans; Infant; Polymerase Chain Reaction; Virus Diseases
Shirali, G. S., Ni, J., Chinnock, R. E., Johnston, J. K., Rosenthal, G. L., Bowles, N. E., Towbin, J. A. Association of viral genome with graft loss in children after cardiac transplantation. The New England journal of medicine 344, 1498-1503 (2001).
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