Systemic and local human cytomegalovirus-specific T-cell response in lung transplant recipients

Daniele Lilleri, Giuseppe Gerna, Francesca Bruno, Paola Draghi, Elisa Gabanti, Chiara Fornara, Federica Meloni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is debated whether human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection/disease of the pulmonary compartment in lung transplant recipients (LTRs) may be controlled by the HCMV-specific systemic T-cell response or requires a local (lung) T-cell response. Systemic and local HCMV loads were investigated in parallel by real-time PCR in 20 LTRs. T-cell responses were measured by intracellular cytokine staining of HCMV-specific IFN-γ+ CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells in PBMC, and by enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) assay in lung (BAL) mononuclear cells. Patients were grouped at time of peak of infection based on viral load in blood and BAL. Immunological testing results showed that five patients with no HCMV infection (either local or systemic) had both local and systemic T-cell responses; four patients with systemic infection had no systemic T-cell response; five patients with both systemic and lung infection had neither local nor systemic T-cell responses; and six patients with lung infection had no local and a partial (only CD8+ in the absence of CD4+) systemic T-cell response. These results indicate that local immunity is associated with resolution of lung infection. Systemic T-cell response alone is not sufficient to provide lung protection from HCMV infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-277
Number of pages11
JournalNew Microbiologica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) assay
  • Intracellular cytoplasmic staining
  • Local (lung) HCMV immunity
  • Lung transplant recipients
  • Systemic HCMV T-cell immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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