Age affects kidney transplant success more than CMV infection

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published January 13, 2016

Key Takeaways

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is a frequent early postoperative complication after kidney transplantation, and some experts have suggested CMV infection damages the allograft, leading to increased kidney transplant failure and reduced patient survival.

But results from a new 10-year study now show this isn’t the case.

The age of the donor and the recipient, not CMV infection, are more important factors in determining transplant success, according to findings from the study, published September 22, 2015 in American Journal of Physiology—Renal Physiology.

In this retrospective analysis of 594 patients who underwent kidney transplantation (or kidney/pancreas transplantation) between 2001 and 2004 at Hannover Medical School, in Hannover, Germany, researchers tracked CMV infection, damage to and loss of transplanted kidney function, the working lifespan of the transplant, and patient survival.

In the first year after transplantation, CMV infection was diagnosed in 153 (26%) of 594 patients, mostly within the first 3 months.

The researchers determined that patients with CMV infection post-transplant show more chronic allograft changes early on—even before CMV infection. “This suggests that graft damage is rather related to donor factors like age or pre-existing renal injury,” whereas CMV viremia or disease were not significant factors, the authors wrote.

At six weeks post-op, transplanted kidney function in patients with CMV was no different than in patients without CMV. However, the transplant in patients with CMV had faster loss of function, leading to shorter lifespan of the transplanted kidney, the researchers noted.

"Our data do not support a significant role of CMV in patient and graft outcomes," the authors concluded.

Share with emailShare to FacebookShare to LinkedInShare to Twitter