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J Infect Dis. 1999 Oct;180(4):976-86.

Hepatocytes are permissive for human cytomegalovirus infection in human liver cell culture and In vivo.

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  • 1Abt. Med. Virologie, Universität Tübingen, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany.


The cytopathic potential of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) in human liver cells was analyzed in cell culture and in tissue sections from patients with HCMV hepatitis. Liver cell cultures, consisting of hepatocytes, bile duct epithelial cells, and stromal cells were infected by various HCMV strains. Cytopathic effects, viral gene expression, and virus production were detected. Infected cell types were identified by immunocytochemical double labeling. Hepatocytes were the predominant target cells of HCMV infection in liver tissues and in cell culture. Late-stage infected cultured hepatocytes produced infectious progeny virus, and infectious virus was propagated from liver tissue specimens. HCMV infection in cultured liver cells closely resembled in vivo infection of the liver with regard to the target cell spectrum and the permissive course of infection. It is concluded that HCMV can cause direct liver parenchyma damage by efficient cytolytic infection of hepatocytes.

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