Immunosuppressive therapy can decrease rejection episodes and increase the risk of severe and fatal infections in heart transplantation (HT) recipients. Immunosuppressive therapy can also decrease the absolute lymphocyte count (ALC), but the relationship between early post-transplant ALC and early cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is largely unknown, especially in HT. We retrospectively analyzed 58 HT recipients who tested positive for CMV IgG antibody and received basiliximab induction therapy. We collected preoperative and 2-month postoperative data on ALC and CMV load. The CMV load > 1200 IU/mL was used as the cutoff value to define early CMV infection. Post-transplant lymphopenia was defined as an ALC of < 500 cells/μL at postoperative day (POD) #7. On POD #7, 29 (50.0%) patients had post-transplant lymphopenia and 29 (50.0%) patients did not. The incidence of CMV infection within 1 or 2 months of HT was higher in the post-transplant lymphopenia group than in the non-lymphopenia group (82.8% vs. 48.3%, P = 0.013; 89.7% vs. 65.5%, P = 0.028, respectively). ALC < 500 cells/μL on POD #7 was an independent risk factor for early CMV infection within 1 month of HT (odds ratio, 4.14; 95% confidence interval, 1.16–14.77; P = 0.029). A low ALC after HT was associated with a high risk of early CMV infection. Post-transplant ALC monitoring is simple and inexpensive and can help identify patients at high risk of early CMV infection.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was partly supported by Institute of Information & communications Technology Planning & Evaluation (IITP) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (2019-0-01750) and partly supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2020R1I1A1A01074368).
© 2021, The Author(s).
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