Human cytomegalovirus induces a distinct innate immune response in the maternal-fetal interface

Virology. 2015 Nov;485:289-96. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2015.06.023. Epub 2015 Aug 28.


The initial interplay between human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and innate tissue response in the human maternal-fetal interface, though crucial for determining the outcome of congenital HCMV infection, has remained unknown. We studied the innate response to HCMV within the milieu of the human decidua, the maternal aspect of the maternal-fetal interface, maintained ex vivo as an integral tissue. HCMV infection triggered a rapid and robust decidual-tissue innate immune response predominated by interferon (IFN)γ and IP-10 induction, dysregulating the decidual cytokine/chemokine environment in a distinctive fashion. The decidual-tissue response was already elicited during viral-tissue contact, and was not affected by neutralizing HCMV antibodies. Of note, IFNγ induction, reflecting immune-cell activation, was distinctive to the maternal decidua, and was not observed in concomitantly-infected placental (fetal) villi. Our studies in a clinically-relevant surrogate human model, provide a novel insight into the first-line decidual tissue response which could affect the outcome of congenital infection.

Keywords: Congenital viral infection; Decidua; Human cytomegalovirus; Innate immune response; Maternal–fetal interface; Placental infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / genetics
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / immunology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / metabolism
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / virology
  • Decidua / immunology
  • Decidua / metabolism
  • Decidua / pathology
  • Decidua / virology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Heparin / metabolism
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Placenta / immunology*
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Placenta / pathology
  • Placenta / virology
  • Pregnancy
  • Virion / immunology


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Heparin