Endothelial cells and CMV dissemination

Giuseppe Gerna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using the murine CMV animal model and the well-established model of Cre-lox-P-mediated green-fluorescence tagging of endothelial cell (EC)-derived mouse CMV to quantify the role of infected ECs in transplantation-associated CMV dissemination (in mice expressing Cre recombinase under the control of either the Tie2 or the Tek promoter selectively expressed in vascular EC-Tie-Cre and Tek-Cre mice), it was shown that EC-derived virus contributed to 50% of the total viral load during primary infection, and there was no preference for dissemination of EC-derived viruses over viruses produced by other cell types. In addition, during secondary viremia, there was only a negligible contribution of EC-derived virus to dissemination to other organs. These results are novel in the methodology employed and are somewhat interesting. However, the data are limited to the mouse model with a short-term follow-up, and the immunodeficient host has not yet been studied. In humans, these conclusions must be taken with caution. First, in primary infection occurring through natural routes, epithelial cells are infected first, then ECs, unless primary infection occurs through blood transfusion, in which case endothelial vascular cells may become infected first. In both cases, the virus transport occurs through the intervention of leukocytes, namely monocytes and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. As monocytes differentiate to macrophages, they become highly susceptible to human CMV replication inside organ tissues, while polymorphonuclear leukocytes are active in virus capturing from infected endothelial vascular cells and transporting to distant sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-444
Number of pages4
JournalFuture Microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • cytomegalovirus
  • endothelial cell
  • primary infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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