Cytomegalovirus establishes a latent reservoir and triggers long-lasting inflammation in the eye

Valentina Voigt, Christopher E. Andoniou, Iona S. Schuster, Anna Oszmiana, Monique L. Ong, Peter Fleming, John V. Forrester, Mariapia A. Degli-Esposti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Recent outbreaks of Ebola and Zika have highlighted the possibility that viruses may cause enduring infections in tissues like the eye, including the neural retina, which have been considered immune privileged. Whether this is a peculiarity of exotic viruses remains unclear, since the impact of more common viral infections on neural compartments has not been examined, especially in immunocompetent hosts. Cytomegalovirus is a common, universally distributed pathogen, generally innocuous in healthy individuals. Whether in immunocompetent hosts cytomegalovirus can access the eye, and reside there indefinitely, was unknown. Using the well-established murine cytomegalovirus infection model, we show that systemic infection of immunocompetent hosts results in broad ocular infection, chronic inflammation and establishment of a latent viral pool in the eye. Infection leads to infiltration and accumulation of anti-viral CD8+T cells in the eye, and to the development of tissue resident memory T cells that localize to the eye, including the retina. These findings identify the eye as an unexpected reservoir for cytomegalovirus, and suggest that common viruses may target this organ more frequently than appreciated. Notably, they also highlight that infection triggers sustained inflammatory responses in the eye, including the neural retina.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1007040
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


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