Recent Approaches and Strategies in the Generation of Anti-human Cytomegalovirus Vaccines

Academic Article


  • Human cytomegalovirus is the largest human herpesvirus and shares many core features of other herpesviruses such as tightly regulated gene expression during genome replication and latency as well as the establishment of lifelong persistence following infection. In contrast to stereotypic clinical syndromes associated with alpha-herpesvirus infections, almost all primary HCMV infections are asymptomatic and acquired early in life in most populations in the world. Although asymptomatic in most individuals, HCMV is a major cause of disease in hosts with deficits in adaptive and innate immunity such as infants who are infected in utero and allograft recipients following transplantation. Congenital HCMV is a commonly acquired infection in the developing fetus that can result in a number of neurodevelopmental abnormalities. Similarly, HCMV is a major cause of disease in allograft recipients in the immediate and late posttransplant period and is thought to be a major contributor to chronic allograft rejection. Even though HCMV induces robust innate and adaptive immune responses, it also encodes a vast array of immune evasion functions that are thought aid in its persistence. Immune correlates of protective immunity that prevent or modify intrauterine HCMV infection remain incompletely defined but are thought to consist primarily of adaptive responses in the pregnant mother, thus making congenital HCMV a potentially vaccine modifiable disease. Similarly, HCMV infection in allograft recipients is often more severe in recipients without preexisting adaptive immunity to HCMV. Thus, there has been a considerable effort to modify HCMV specific immunity in transplant recipient either through active immunization or passive transfer of adaptive effector functions. Although efforts to develop an efficacious vaccine and/or passive immunotherapy to limit HCMV disease have been underway for nearly six decades, most have met with limited success at best. In contrast to previous efforts, current HCMV vaccine development has relied on observations of unique properties of HCMV in hopes of reproducing immune responses that at a minimum will be similar to that following natural infection. However, more recent findings have suggested that immunity following naturally acquired HCMV infection may have limited protective activity and almost certainly, is not sterilizing. Such observations suggest that either the induction of natural immunity must be specifically tailored to generate protective activity or alternatively, that providing targeted passive immunity to susceptible populations could be prove to be more efficacious.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Boppana SB; Britt WJ
  • Start Page

  • 403
  • End Page

  • 463
  • Volume

  • 2244