Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) establishes persistent infection, with control of replication thought to be mediated by CMV-specific CD8 T cells. Primary CMV infection commonly affects young children and causes prolonged viral shedding in saliva and urine. We investigated whether this virus-host interaction pattern reflects a developmental deficiency of antiviral CD8 T cell-mediated immunity during childhood. CMV-specific CD8 T cell responses in asymptomatic children with active infection were not different from adults with recent or long-term infection in frequency and functional analyses. High urine CMV concentrations were detected, despite these CMV-specific CD8 T cell responses. We conclude that delayed resolution of primary CMV infection in young children is not caused by a deficient CMV-specific CD8 T cell response. Because these healthy children continue to have local CMV replication, we suggest that CD8 T cells may function primarily to prevent symptomatic, disseminated disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health