Efficacy and safety of valganciclovir in liver-transplanted children infected with Epstein-Barr virus


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Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection after liver transplantation (LT) is associated with increased risk of posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD). Lowering immunosuppression is the current method to prevent PTLD in LT children with a high viral load. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of valganciclovir (VGCV) in children with EBV infection after LT. Forty-seven children showing detectable EBV-DNA (72% asymptomatic) were treated with VGCV (520 mg/sqm twice daily) with no immunosuppression decrease (except in 4 cases). VGCV treatment started 17 months (median) after the onset of EBV infection. A 30-day treatment applied to 26 patients led to undetectable EBV-DNA in 11/32 courses (34.3%), with 82% relapsing. A long VGCV treatment (median: 8 months) achieved undetectable EBV-DNA in 20/42 (47.6%), 60% of whom maintained response off therapy. There were no new PTLD cases. Symptoms worsened in 1 (2.1%) in whom PTLD was suspected but not confirmed in liver and jejunum biopsies. Factors associated with achievement of undetectable EBV-DNA were a longer time from LT and a lower rate of intervening infections in comparison with nonresponders. The safety profile for VGCV was excellent. Graft rejection occurred in 6%. In conclusion, in 47 LT children with a sustained increased EBV load treated with VGCV and unchanged immunosuppression, PTLD was suspected in 1 child (2.1%). A viral load decrease could be achieved as EBV-DNA was undetectable in 47% of patients under prolonged treatment. Liver Transpl 14:1185–1193, 2008. © 2008 AASLD.