The immunosuppressive effect of human cytomegalovirus infection in recipients of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

S. Giebel, R. Maccario, D. Lilleri, M. Zecca, M. A. Avanzini, M. Marconi, A. Di Cesare Merlone, G. Campanini, D. Montagna, P. Travaglino, R. Gentile, S. Telli, D. Pagliara, J. Holowiecki, F. Locatelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In immune-competent individuals, human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection is associated with impairment of T-cell function. Our goal was to evaluate prospectively whether clinically asymptomatic HCMV infection in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloHSCT) recipients, treated pre emptively with ganciclovir, influences T-cell function as well. Mitogen-stimulated T-cell proliferative activity, together with cell surface markers, was tested in 49 patients on days +30, +45, +60, and +90 after alloHSCT and, additionally, in cases of positive HCMV pp65-antigenemia. HCMV infection was diagnosed in 19 patients. None of them developed HCMV disease. T-cell proliferative activity was significantly decreased on days when HCMV antigenemia was positive as compared to days without antigenemia. The number of pp65-positive cells negatively correlated with proliferative response. Comparison of patients who did experience HCMV infection with those who did not reveals significant decrease of T-cell proliferative activity observed on days +30 and +45, a time period when antigenemia was most frequently found to be positive, whereas no difference was detected on days +60 and +90. We conclude that, even clinically asymptomatic, HCMV infection has negative impact on T-cell proliferation capacity in alloHSCT recipients. However, pre emptive therapy with ganciclovir makes this immunosuppressive effect transient and restricted to the time of infection duration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-509
Number of pages7
JournalBone Marrow Transplantation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005



  • AlloHSCT
  • HCMV
  • T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Transplantation

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