Distribution of Porcine Cytomegalovirus in Infected Donor Pigs and in Baboon Recipients of Pig Heart Transplantation

Viruses. 2018 Feb 6;10(2):66. doi: 10.3390/v10020066.


The porcine cytomegalovirus (PCMV) is a herpesvirus that may pose a risk for xenotransplantation using pig cells, tissues, or organs. Here, three orthotopic pig heart transplantations into baboons were studied. To detect PCMV, a real-time PCR and a Western blot assay based on four PCMV protein sequences, including two tegument proteins, were used. The transmission of PCMV from the donor pig to the recipient baboon was found in two cases, despite PCMV not being detected in the blood of the donor pigs by real-time PCR. Although it was not in the blood, PCMV was detected in different organs of the donor pigs, and in sibling animals. Immunohistochemistry using an antiserum that is specific for PCMV detected virus protein-expressing cells in all of the organs of the recipient baboon, most likely representing disseminated pig cells. Therefore, for the first time, the distribution of PCMV in organs of the donor pigs and the recipient baboons was described. In addition, baboon cytomegalovirus (BaCMV) was found activated in the recipient, and a screening for hepatitis E virus (HEV) and porcine lymphotropic herpesviruses (PLHV) was performed. For the first time, a cross-reactivity between antibodies directed against PCMV and BaCMV was found.

Keywords: porcine cytomegalovirus; virus safety; virus transmission; xenotransplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Cytomegalovirus / genetics*
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / veterinary*
  • DNA, Viral
  • Female
  • Heart Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Male
  • Monkey Diseases / immunology
  • Monkey Diseases / virology*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Papio
  • Prevalence
  • Swine
  • Swine Diseases / immunology
  • Swine Diseases / virology*
  • Tissue Donors*
  • Transplant Recipients*
  • Viral Load


  • DNA, Viral