Human Cytomegalovirus Infection in Women with Preexisting Immunity: Sources of Infection and Mechanisms of Infection in the Presence of Antiviral Immunity

Academic Article


  • Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection remains an important cause of neurodevelopmental sequelae in infants infected in utero. Unique to the natural history of perinatal HCMV infections is the occurrence of congenital HCMV infections (cCMV) in women with existing immunity to HCMV, infections that have been designated as nonprimary maternal infection. In maternal populations with a high HCMV seroprevalence, cCMV that follows nonprimary maternal infections accounts for 75%-90% of all cases of cCMV infections as well as a large proportion of infected infants with neurodevelopmental sequelae. Although considerable effort has been directed toward understanding immune correlates that can modify maternal infections and intrauterine transmission, the source of virus leading to nonprimary maternal infections and intrauterine transmission is not well defined. Previous paradigms that included reactivation of latent virus as the source of infection in immune women have been challenged by studies demonstrating acquisition and transmission of antigenically distinct viruses, a finding suggesting that reinfection through exposure to an exogenous virus is responsible for some cases of nonprimary maternal infection. Additional understanding of the source(s) of virus that leads to nonprimary maternal infection will be of considerable value in the development and testing of interventions such as vaccines designed to limit the incidence of cCMV in populations with high HCMV seroprevalence.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Britt WJ
  • Start Page

  • S1
  • End Page

  • S8
  • Volume

  • 221