Differentiation Between Acute Primary and Recurrent Human Cytomegalovirus Infection in Pregnancy, Using a Microneutralization Assay

J Med Virol. 1998 Dec;56(4):351-8.


Acute primary human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection in pregnancy, the major cause of congenital symptomatic infection, is often difficult to differentiate from recurrent infection, which presents a considerably smaller risk to the fetus. Therefore, the diagnosis of primary infection in pregnancy is very important, especially if seroconversion is not documented and follow-up sera with declining IgM-titers are not available. To investigate the value of the neutralizing antibody response against HCMV in differentiating acute primary from recurrent and past infection, well-characterized sera from pregnant women were examined. Employing a microneutralization assay, it was found that neutralizing antibodies first appeared approximately 15 weeks after acute infection. However, serum samples of pregnant women with recurrent or past infection consistently displayed neutralizing activity. In conclusion, the neutralization assay can be used as a reliable method for discriminating acute primary from previous or recurrent infection in a single serum sample.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology*
  • Cytomegalovirus / isolation & purification
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / virology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neutralization Tests*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Recurrence
  • Urine / virology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M