Evaluation of virological procedures to detect fetal human cytomegalovirus infection: avidity of IgG antibodies, virus detection in amniotic fluid and maternal serum

J Med Virol. 1996 Sep;50(1):9-15. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9071(199609)50:1<9::AID-JMV3>3.0.CO;2-5.


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is the most common cause of viral intrauterine infection and fetal damage largely due to maternal primary infection. Virological procedures which are able to detect HCMV fetal infection were evaluated. HCMV IgG antibodies were detected in 62.5% of the pregnant women and 1.47% had a primary infection. From March, 1992 to August, 1995, 29 seroconversions were observed, and in 64 other cases. HCMV IgM antibodies were detected in the first serological test. The mean IgG antibody avidity test (AI) was 31% for the 11 seroconversions tested and 74% in 32 cases where IgG and IgM HCMV antibodies were detected in the first serum. In the 29 HCMV seroconversions, 19 amniocentesis were carried out and 12 fetuses (41.4%) were infected in utero. In four amniotic fluids positive in culture and PCR, the fetus or newborns were infected and in one out of the two cordocentesis undertaken, hepatitis, anemia, and thrombocytopenia were noted. In four other cases, investigations seeking HCMV in amniotic fluid were negative whereas infants were infected at birth. Among the 64 cases with positive HCMV IgM and IgG antibodies detected in the first serological test, three fetuses were infected in utero, but no amniotic fluid was available in these cases. Amniotic fluids were studied in 39 cases, and HCMV detection by culture and PCR-hybridization was negative. HCMV DNA was detected in the maternal sera of five out of 21 pairs of seroconversions and in two cases on the first negative serum. The assay was also carried out on 50 of the 64 HCMV IgM positive sera. Two had detectable HCMV DNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amniotic Fluid / immunology
  • Amniotic Fluid / virology
  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis*
  • Cell Line
  • Cytomegalovirus / genetics
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology
  • Cytomegalovirus / isolation & purification*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / immunology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / virology*
  • DNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Fetus / virology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin M / analysis
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pregnancy


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • DNA, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M