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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Cytomegalovirus-induced immunopathology and its clinical consequences

Stefania Varani* and Maria Paola Landini

Author Affiliations

Section of Microbiology, Department of Hematology and Oncology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

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Herpesviridae 2011, 2:6  doi:10.1186/2042-4280-2-6

Published: 7 April 2011

Abstract

Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a ubiquitous DNA virus that causes severe disease in patients with immature or impaired immune systems. During active infection, CMV modulates host immunity, and CMV-infected patients often develop signs of immune dysfunction, such as immunosuppression and autoimmune phenomena. Furthermore, active viral infection has been observed in several autoimmune diseases, and case reports have linked primary CMV infection and the onset of autoimmune disorders. In addition, CMV infection promotes allograft rejection and graft-versus-host disease in solid organ and bone marrow transplant recipients, respectively, further implicating CMV in the genesis and maintenance of immunopathological phenomena. The mechanisms by which CMV could induce inhibition of host defense, inflammation, and autoimmunity are discussed, as is the treatment of virus-induced immunopathology with antivirals.