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J Infect Dis. 2007 Apr 1;195(7):1062-70. Epub 2007 Feb 20.

Development of human cytomegalovirus-specific T cell immunity during primary infection of pregnant women and its correlation with virus transmission to the fetus.

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Servizio di Virologia, Fondazione Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, Policlinico San Matteo, Pavia, Italy.



We sought to study the development of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV)-specific T cell-mediated immune responses during primary HCMV infection in pregnancy.


The HCMV-specific lymphoproliferative response (LPR) and intracellular cytokine (interferon [IFN]- gamma and interleukin [IL]-2) production were investigated during the first year after primary infection in 49 pregnant women and 9 nonpregnant control subjects. An HCMV-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell LPR was detected by the 5,6-carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester dilution method, and a cell-division index was calculated.


The CD4(+) T cell LPR developed slightly earlier than the CD8(+) T cell LPR. However, CDI values for both T cell subpopulations were lower than those of seropositive control subjects in both pregnant and nonpregnant individuals. During the first month after infection, IFN- gamma -producing CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells were consistently observed, whereas IL-2-producing T cells were very rarely detected in blood. A correlation between the development of HCMV-specific LPR and virus clearance from blood was observed. A significantly delayed development of the CD4(+) T cell LPR was observed in infected mothers who transmitted virus to the fetus, compared with those who did not.


The development of adaptive T cell immunity after primary HCMV infection appears to be a complex and slow process until a memory T cell response develops. The T cell immune response appears to influence vertical HCMV transmission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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