Perivascular stromal cells as a potential reservoir of human cytomegalovirus

Am J Transplant. 2014 Apr;14(4):820-30. doi: 10.1111/ajt.12642. Epub 2014 Mar 4.


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection is an important cause of morbidity and mortality among both solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients. Identification of cells throughout the body that can potentially serve as a viral reservoir is essential to dissect mechanisms of cell tropism and latency and to develop novel therapies. Here, we tested and compared the permissivity of liver-, brain-, lung (LNG)- and bone marrow (BM)-derived perivascular mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) to HCMV infection and their ability to propagate and produce infectious virus. Perivascular MSC isolated from the different organs have in common the expression of CD146 and Stro-1. While all these cells were permissive to HCMV infection, the highest rate of HCMV infection was seen with LNG-MSC, as determined by viral copy number and production of viral particles by these cells. In addition, we showed that, although the supernatants from each of the HCMV-infected cultures contained infectious virus, the viral copy number and the quantity and timing of virus production varied among the various organ-specific MSC. Furthermore, using quantitative polymerase chain reaction, we were able to detect HCMV DNA in BM-MSC isolated from 7 out of 19 healthy, HCMV-seropositive adults, suggesting that BM-derived perivascular stromal cells may constitute an unrecognized natural HCMV reservoir.

Keywords: Cytomegalovirus; HCMV; hematopoietic niche; pericytes; transplantation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone Marrow / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow / virology
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / virology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytomegalovirus / physiology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / immunology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / virology*
  • DNA, Viral / genetics*
  • Fetus / virology
  • Humans
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / virology
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / virology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / virology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Virus Replication


  • DNA, Viral