Pediatric Drugs

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 309–321

Antivirals for Cytomegalovirus Infection in Neonates and Infants

Focus on Pharmacokinetics, Formulations, Dosing, and Adverse Events
Review Article


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is very common throughout the world, and has become more of a pediatric clinical concern given the high incidence of congenital CMV infections as well as the increasing numbers of immunocompromised patients. Because of this, the need for antiviral therapies in infants and neonates is growing.

Currently, there are four antivirals available that are active against CMV: ganciclovir, valganciclovir, foscarnet, and cidofovir. At this time, none have approved indications for use in children. Although there are limited data regarding the dose, pharmacokinetics (PK), safety, and adverse events for some of these antivirals, ganciclovir, and its oral prodrug valganciclovir, have been the best studied in the infant and neonate populations. In general, pharmaceutical PK studies in young children are limited by the constraints of sampling difficulties and blood volume requirements; fewer sampling times and studies may be available for drug evaluation. Given this caveat, ganciclovir and valganciclovir PK in children thus far appears to follow a monocompartmental model, contrary to what has been described in adults. However, when normalized for weight, the volume of distribution, clearance, and half-life of ganciclovir are similar to those found in adults. Given the findings that ganciclovir (and thus valganciclovir) clearance is directly proportionate to renal function, care must be taken when administering the drug to patients with impaired renal function. Recent studies evaluating valganciclovir PK in infants (at a dose of 16 mg/kg every 12 hours) have shown similar areas under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUCs) to intravenous ganciclovir (at a dose of 6 mg/kg every 12 hours), and that these AUCs remain quite stable over a number of weeks. As seen in adults, oral ganciclovir has a low bioavailability (4.8% in a pediatric analysis) and is therefore a poor alternative for treating serious CMV infections.

Neutropenia is the most frequent toxicity associated with ganciclovir and valganciclovir therapy, whereas significant (and possibly irreversible) renal toxicity can be seen with cidofovir. Foscarnet administration can also result in renal toxicity as well as significant electrolyte imbalances. Several of these drugs have potential toxicities that are of concern, including carcinogenesis, teratogenesis, and azospermia (ganciclovir, valganciclovir, and cidofovir) and deposition into bone or dentition (foscarnet) that may have significant implications when treating an infant. Given these potential ill effects, careful consideration of the indications for the clinical use of these antivirals is necessary before using them for CMV infection in neonates and infants.

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of PediatricsVirginia Commonwealth University Medical CenterRichmondUSA

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