Ocular Outcomes after Treatment of Cytomegalovirus Retinitis Using Adoptive Immunotherapy with Cytomegalovirus-Specific Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes

Mrinali P. Gupta, Lisa R. Koenig, Ekaterina Doubrovina, Aisha Hasan, Parastoo B. Dahi, Richard J. O'Reilly, Guenther Koehne, Anton Orlin, Robison V.Paul Chan, Donald J. D'Amico, Susanna S. Park, Bryn M. Burkholder, Szilárd Kiss

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4 Scopus citations


Purpose: To describe ocular outcomes in eyes with cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis treated with adoptive immunotherapy using systemic administration of CMV-specific cytotoxic Tlymphocytes (CMV-specific CTLs). Design: Retrospective cohort study. Participants: Patients with active CMV retinitis evaluated at a tertiary care academic center. Methods: Treatment of CMV retinitis with standard-of-care therapy (systemic or intravitreal antivirals) or CMV-specific CTLs (with or without concurrent standard-of-care therapies). Main Outcome Measures: The electronic medical record was reviewed to determine baseline characteristics, treatment course, and ocular outcomes, including best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), treatments administered (CMV-specific CTLs, systemic antivirals, intravitreal antivirals), resolution of CMV retinitis, any occurrence of immune recovery uveitis, cystoid macular edema, retinal detachment, or a combination thereof. Results: Seven patients (3 of whom had bilateral disease [n = 10 eyes]) were treated with CMV-specific CTLs, whereas 20 patients (6 of whom had bilateral disease [n = 26 eyes]) received standard-of-care treatment. Indications for CMV-specific CTL therapy included persistent or progressive CMV retinitis (71.4% of patients); CMV UL54 or UL97 antiviral resistance mutations (42.9%); side effects or toxicity from antiviral agents (57.1%); patient intolerance to longstanding, frequent antiviral therapy for persistent retinitis (28.6%); or a combination thereof. Two patients (28.6%; 4 eyes [40%]) received CMV-specific CTL therapy without concurrent systemic or intravitreal antiviral therapy for active CMV retinitis, whereas 5 patients (71.4%; 6 eyes [60%]) continued to receive concurrent antiviral therapies. Resolution of CMV retinitis was achieved in 9 eyes (90%) treated with CMV-specific CTLs, with BCVA stabilizing (4 eyes [40%]) or improving (4 eyes [40%]) in 80% of eyes over an average follow-up of 33.4 months. Rates of immune recovery uveitis, new-onset cystoid macular edema, and retinal detachment were 0%, 10% (1 eye), and 20% (2 eyes), respectively. These outcomes compared favorably with a nonrandomized cohort of eyes treated with standard-of-care therapy alone, despite potentially worse baseline characteristics. Conclusions: CMV-specific CTL therapy may represent a novel monotherapy or adjunctive therapy, or both, for CMV retinitis, especially in eyes that are resistant, refractory, or intolerant of standard-of-care antiviral therapies. More generally, adoptive cell transfer and adoptive immunotherapy may have a role in refractory CMV retinitis. Larger prospective, randomized trials are necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)838-849
Number of pages12
JournalOphthalmology Retina
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Cell therapy
  • CMV retinitis
  • T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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