Association of tumour necrosis factor alpha and interleukin 6 levels with cytomegalovirus DNA detection and disease after renal transplantation

J Med Virol. 2001 May;64(1):29-34. doi: 10.1002/jmv.1013.


Cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin 6 (IL-6) are thought to be important in the pathogenesis of post-transplant cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease. CMV infection increases the production of TNF-alpha and IL-6. Conversely, TNF-alpha switches on the replication of CMV. To study the association of these two cytokines with CMV activity and disease, TNF-alpha and IL-6 levels were assayed in plasma samples taken serially from three groups of renal transplant recipients. Group A (n = 12) had CMV disease and syndrome; Group B (n = 11) had detectable CMV DNA in plasma or peripheral blood leucocytes without disease, i.e., presumed asymptomatic CMV infection, and Group C (n = 11) had no detectable CMV DNA nor disease. The median peak TNF-alpha levels in patients with CMV disease (Group A) were significantly higher than that in Group B or Group C (P < 0.02) whereas the median peak IL-6 levels in group C patients were significantly lower than that in group A (P < 0.04) or group B (P < 0.03). A TNF-alpha level of above 100 pg/ml was significantly associated with CMV disease and high plasma CMV load (> 10,000 copies/ml). IL-6 levels above 15 pg/ml were significantly associated with CMV DNA detection, but not with CMV disease or elevated CMV load. High levels of TNF-alpha or IL-6 were not associated with CMV donor/recipient serostatus, HHV-6 or HHV-7 DNA detection, immunosuppressive regimen or rejection episodes. The role of TNF-alpha in the pathogenesis of CMV disease deserves further investigation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytomegalovirus / isolation & purification
  • Cytomegalovirus / physiology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / blood
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / etiology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / immunology
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / isolation & purification
  • Herpesvirus 7, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Kidney Transplantation / immunology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism*
  • Viral Load
  • Virus Activation


  • DNA, Viral
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha