The detection of CMV in saliva can mark a systemic infection with CMV in renal transplant recipients

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Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is often transmitted through saliva. The salivary gland is a site of CMV replication and saliva can be used to diagnose congenital CMV infections. CMV replication is monitored in whole blood or plasma in renal transplant recipients (RTR) and associates with clinical disease. However, these assays may not detect replication in the salivary gland and there is little data linking detection in saliva with systemic infection and clinical sequelae. RTR (n = 82) were recruited > 2 years after transplantation. An in-house quantitative PCR assay was used to detect CMV UL54 in saliva samples. CMV DNA was sought in plasma using a commercial assay. Vascular health was predicted using flow mediated dilatation (FMD) and plasma biomarkers. CMV-reactive antibodies were quantified by ELISA and circulating CMV-specific T-cells by an interferon-γ ELISpot assay. Vδ2 γδ T-cells were detected using multicolor flow cytometry reflecting population expansion after CMV infection. The presence of CMV DNA in saliva and plasma associated with plasma levels of antibodies reactive with CMV gB and with populations of circulating Vδ2 γδ T-cells (p < 0.01). T-cells reactive to CMV immediate early (IE)-1 protein were generally lower in patients with CMV DNA in saliva or plasma, but the level of significance varied (p = 0.02–0.16). Additionally, CMV DNA in saliva or plasma associated weakly with impaired FMD (p = 0.06–0.09). The data suggest that CMV detected in saliva reflects systemic infections in adult RTR.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5230
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


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