Comparison of three cellular assays to predict the course of CMV infection in liver transplant recipients

To estimate protection from cytomegalovirus (CMV) replication after solid organ transplantation, CMV serology has been considered insufficient and thus CMV immunity is increasingly assessed by cellular in vitro methods. We compared two commercially available IFN-γ ELISpot assays (T-Track CMV and T-SPOT.CMV) and an IFN-γ ELISA (QuantiFERON-CMV). Currently, there is no study comparing these three assays. The assays were performed in 56 liver transplant recipients at the end of antiviral prophylaxis and one month thereafter. In CMV high- or intermediate-risk patients the two ELISpot assays showed significant correlation (p < 0.0001, r > 0.6) but the correlation of the ELISpot assays with QuantiFERON-CMV was weaker. Results of both ELISpot assays were similarly predictive of protection from CMV-DNAemia ≥500 copies/mL [CMV pp65 T-SPOT.CMV at the end of prophylaxis: area under curve (AUC) = 0.744, cut-off 142 spot forming units (SFU), sensitivity set to 100%, specificity 46%; CMV IE-1 T-Track CMV at month 1: AUC = 0.762, cut-off 3.5 SFU, sensitivity set to 100%, specificity 59%]. The QuantiFERON-CMV assay was inferior, reaching a specificity of 23% when setting the sensitivity to 100%. In conclusion, both CMV-specific ELISpot assays appear suitable to assess protection from CMV infection/reactivation in liver transplant recipients.


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