Ann Gastroenterol 2019 Jan-Feb;32(1):81-87. Epub 2018 Oct 3.
Gastroenterology Department, Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom.
Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is associated with acute exacerbations of ulcerative colitis (UC) but its clinical relevance remains uncertain. The primary aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of CMV infection in UC patients using viral polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis of mucosal biopsy samples. Secondary aims were to establish whether the disease was due to a primary infection or reactivation and to note associated risk factors and clinical outcomes.
Methods: Since 2011, a policy of biopsy for CMV infection was adopted for severe UC patients in a large tertiary center. A retrospective review was undertaken to identify patients with mucosal biopsies for exacerbations of UC from October 2011 through January 2014.
Results: Sixty biopsies for CMV PCR were obtained from 52 patients, 15 of whom were positive. In these patients, 9/9 tested were seropositive for anti-CMV IgG, while none were seropositive for anti-CMV IgM. Steroid refractory disease was a significant predictor of CMV positivity; however, there was no difference between the CMV-positive and -negative groups in rates of immunosuppression, or clinical and endoscopic severity. Six patients in the CMV-positive group received infliximab; all received concurrent antiviral therapy and did not require surgery.
Conclusions: PCR of mucosal biopsies detected CMV infection due to viral reactivation in almost a third of patients with deteriorating or acute severe UC. Steroid refractory disease was significantly associated with CMV positivity, but no significant relationship was demonstrated with either disease severity or immunosuppression in our cohort. Treatment with anti-tumor necrosis factor agents was administered safely in combination with antiviral drugs.