Viral effects on metabolism: changes in glucose and glutamine utilization during human cytomegalovirus infection

Trends Microbiol. 2011 Jul;19(7):360-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2011.04.002. Epub 2011 May 12.


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection causes dramatic alterations of intermediary metabolism, similar to those found in tumor cells. In infected cells, glucose carbon is not completely broken down by the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle for energy; instead, it is used biosynthetically. This process requires increased glucose uptake, increased glycolysis and the diversion of glucose carbon, in the form of citrate, from the TCA cycle for use in HCMV-induced fatty acid biosynthesis. The diversion of citrate from the TCA cycle (cataplerosis) requires induction of enzymes to promote glutaminolysis, the conversion of glutamine to α-ketoglutarate to maintain the TCA cycle (anaplerosis) and ATP production. Such changes could result in heretofore uncharacterized pathogenesis, potentially implicating HCMV as a subtle cofactor in many maladies, including oncogenesis. Recognition of the effects of HCMV, and other viruses, on host cell metabolism will provide new understanding of viral pathogenesis and novel avenues for antiviral therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Citric Acid / metabolism
  • Citric Acid Cycle
  • Cytomegalovirus / metabolism
  • Cytomegalovirus / pathogenicity*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / biosynthesis*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glutamine / metabolism*
  • Glycolysis
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Ketoglutaric Acids / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Phosphorylation


  • Fatty Acids
  • Ketoglutaric Acids
  • Glutamine
  • Citric Acid
  • Carbon
  • Glucose