Human cytomegalovirus infection of the major leukocyte subpopulations and evidence for initial viral replication in polymorphonuclear leukocytes from viremic patients

J Infect Dis. 1992 Dec;166(6):1236-44. doi: 10.1093/infdis/166.6.1236.


Fourteen immunocompromised patients were examined for viremia, pp65 and p72 antigenemia, and presence of viral DNA in leukocyte fractions of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNL), monocytes/macrophages (M/M), and B and T lymphocytes after purification by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Nearly all PMNL and M/M fractions were positive for DNA and pp65 antigenemia, while p72 antigenemia was detected in 73% and 62%, respectively. The virus isolation rate was 45% from PMNL and 17% from M/M. T lymphocytes were positive for DNA in 50% of cases and for pp65 and p72 antigenemia in only 11%, while B lymphocytes were DNA-positive in 43% of samples and consistently negative for antigenemia; neither T nor B lymphocytes had virus isolated. Immediate-early (IE)1 RNA was present in 23 (85.2%) of 27 dextran-enriched DNA-positive p72-positive PMNL samples and, in sequential PMNL samples from two heart-transplanted patients, was detected during peak infection in association with p72. Thus, PMNL and M/M are the subpopulations primarily involved in HCMV infection; PMNL may undergo IE replicative events and are not merely passive carriers of phagocytized viral material.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, Viral / blood
  • Antigens, Viral / chemistry
  • Antigens, Viral / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Separation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytomegalovirus / genetics
  • Cytomegalovirus / isolation & purification
  • Cytomegalovirus / physiology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / blood
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / microbiology*
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • DNA, Viral / chemistry
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Transplantation
  • Humans
  • Immediate-Early Proteins*
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neutrophils / microbiology*
  • Phosphoproteins / blood
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • RNA, Viral / chemistry
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / blood
  • Viremia / blood
  • Viremia / microbiology*
  • Virus Replication


  • Antigens, Viral
  • DNA, Viral
  • Immediate-Early Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Matrix Proteins
  • cytomegalovirus matrix protein 65kDa
  • immediate-early proteins, cytomegalovirus