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PLoS One. 2015 Aug 31;10(8):e0137096. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137096. eCollection 2015.

Association of CMV-Specific T Cell-Mediated Immunity with CMV DNAemia and Development of CMV Disease in HIV-1-Infected Individuals.

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Department of Dermatology, Division of Immunology, Allergy and Infectious Diseases (DIAID), Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
Department of Virology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
Department of Internal Medicine III, Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, HIV & Liver Study Group, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Division of Clinical Virology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



Among HIV-1-infected individuals, cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation and disease occur in the setting of advanced immunosuppression. The value of a standardized assessment of CMV-specific T-cell mediated immunity by the CMV QuantiFERON assay (CMV-QFT) has not yet been thoroughly investigated in HIV-1-infected subjects.


Prospective, longitudinal study in 153 HIV-1-infected subjects with a CD4+ T cell count < 350/μL who simultaneously underwent CMV-QFT, CMV serology testing and CMV-DNA quantification. Factors associated with CMV-QFT were evaluated. Clinical screening for CMV manifestations was then performed every 3 months.


Among the 141 CMV IgG-seropositive individuals the CMV-QFT assay yielded reactive results in 84% (118/141), negative results in 15% (21/141) and indeterminate (negative mitogen IFN-gamma response) results in 1% (2/141) of subjects. The mean actual CD4+ T cell count was significantly higher in CMV-QFT reactive subjects, when compared to CMV-QFT non-reactive individuals (183 ± 102 vs. 126 ± 104 cells/μL, P = 0.015). A significantly lower proportion of CMV-QFT reactive vs. non-reactive patients displayed CMV DNAemia > 100 copies/mL (23% (27/118) vs. 48% (11/23), P = 0.02). Furthermore, a statistically significant inverse association between mitogen IFN-gamma response and CMV-DNAemia > 1000 copies/mL was observed (P < 0.001). During the observational period, 5 CMV end-organ manifestations were observed. In three of the CMV cases the CMV-QFT yielded indeterminate results.


While CMV-QFT reactivity indicates CMV-specific immunity, indeterminate results due to negative mitogen IFN-gamma response might reflect HIV-1-induced immunodeficiency. Thus, dependency upon CD4+ T cell count should be considered when interpreting CMV-QFT results.

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