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J Dermatol Sci. 2000 Apr;22(3):196-204.

Current understanding of cytomegalovirus infection in immunocompetent individuals.

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Kyorin University School of Medicine, Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan.


Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a member of the herpes family of viruses. After primary infection, it undergoes latency/persistence. Significant progress has been made in the last few years in detecting CMV. The most available approach to the diagnosis of CMV infection is the direct detection of CMV antigen in nuclei of peripheral blood leukocytes, an assay known as pp65 direct antigenemia test. CMV infection is well controlled in the immunocompetent hosts; however, there are various immunological changes in immune function during and after recovery from CMV infections. Characteristic changes in lymphocyte subsets occur during CMV infection, mainly involving expansion and activation of CD8+ T lymphocytes and NK cells. On the other hand, CMV has an array of immune escape strategies for establishing a life long latent state: CMV inhibits major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I expression within infected cells and impairs IFN-gamma-induced MHC class II-dependent antigen presentation by macrophages; it can also encode proteins that can interfere with the presentation of viral peptide antigens to T cells. While cutaneous manifestations of CMV seen in immunocompromised patients have been extensively reported, those in adult immunocompetent individuals have received relatively little attention: in this setting the primary CMV infection appears as CMV mononucleosis. At the time of occurrence of the mononucleosis syndrome, a variety of extracutaneous and cutaneous manifestations occur. These clinical symptoms are not the direct consequence of proliferation of CMV in given tissues but indicative of the immunological response toward CMV. The incidence of the appearance of eruptions in CMV mononucleosis is variable. Certain drugs given in the early stage of this disease play an important role in the development of eruption, just as with the ampicillin rashes in the Epstein-Barr virus mononucleosis. Although the mechanism by which drugs trigger the development of rashes in patients with CMV mononucleosis is unknown, it is assumed that CMV is likely to be a potential amplifier of drug rashes induced by activation of drug-specific T cells. By improving methods for detection of CMV, we can recognize that many types of eruptions other than CMV mononucleosis could be induced by primary infection or reactivation of CMV.

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