To evaluate the clinical significance of a cytomegalovirus (CMV) antigenemia assay in the prediction and diagnosis of CMV gastrointestinal (CMV-GI) disease after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), 19 allogeneic HSCT recipients developing CMV-GI disease were retrospectively reviewed. All patients were monitored by a CMV antigenemia assay, at least once weekly after engraftment. The median onset of CMV-GI disease occurred 31 days post transplant (range: 19-62). Only four of 19 patients (21%) developed a positive CMV antigenemia test before developing CMV-GI diseases. Although all 19 patients subsequently developed positive CNIV antigenemia tests during their clinical courses, the values remained at a low-level in nine (47%) patients. Among the 14 patients in whom results of real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were available, seven (50%) yielded positive results of real-time PCR before developing CMV-GI disease. In contrast to the values of CMV antigenemia, all 14 patients exclusively yielded high viral loads (median: 2.8 × 104 copies/ml plasma). We conclude that CMV antigenemia testing has limited value in prediction or early diagnosis of CMV-GI disease, and that real-time PCR could have a more diagnostic significance.
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