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Future Virol. 2012 Mar 1;7(3):279-293.

The immune response to human CMV.

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Division of Translational Vaccine Research, Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duarte, CA 91010, USA.


This review will summarize and interpret recent literature regarding the human CMV immune response, which is among the strongest measured and is the focus of attention for numerous research groups. CMV is a highly prevalent, globally occurring infection that rarely elicits disease in healthy immunocompetent hosts. The human immune system is unable to clear CMV infection and latency, but mounts a spirited immune-defense targeting multiple immune-evasion genes encoded by this dsDNA β-herpes virus. Additionally, the magnitude of cellular immune response devoted to CMV may cause premature immune senescence, and the high frequencies of cytolytic T cells may aggravate vascular pathologies. However, uncontrolled CMV viremia and life-threatening symptoms, which occur readily after immunosuppression and in the immature host, clearly indicate the essential role of immunity in maintaining asymptomatic co-existence with CMV. Approaches for harnessing the host immune response to CMV are needed to reduce the burden of CMV complications in immunocompromised individuals.

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