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N Engl J Med. 1977 Jun 16;296(24):1372-7.

Cellular immunity and herpesvirus infections in cardiac-transplant patients.


We observed severe infection with herpes simplex virus in cardiac-transplant patients despite their high serum antibody levels to this virus. Therefore, we sought to correlate clinical susceptibility to two herpesvirus (simplex and zoster) infections with specific cellular immunity, assessed by the transformation and interferon responses of peripheral blood mononuclear cells to heat-inactivated antigens. Transformation and interferon response to herps simplex virus was maximally depressed immediately after transplantation, the time when severe and prolonged infection with herps simplex virus occurred. Six months to six years after transplantation, both clinical susceptibility and cellular immunity to herpes simplex virus were normal. Herpes zoster infections were more frequent than normal at all times after cardiac transplantation; depressed or absent cellular responses to the varicella zoster virus paralleled that susceptibility. In these patients the risk of severe herpesvirus infections correlated with depressed cellular immune responses to the specific viral agent involved.

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