A prospective study of 15 patients who received renal transplants defined the effect of renal transplantation on the cellular immune response to cytomegalovirus infection. Of 15 patients, 14 developed cytomegalovirus infection, usually in the first 2 months after transplantation, and all infections were accompanied by a normal humoral immune response. After the initiation of immunosuppressive therapy and transplantation, there was a general depression of lymphocyte transformation, as reflected in the response to phytohemagglutinin, accompanied by a specific defect in cellular immunity, as indicated by lymphocyte transformation to cytomegalovirus antigen. Eleven patients had cellular immunity to cytomegalovirus before transplantation, and all of these became negative in the first month after transplantation. In subsequent months, only 6 of the 15 study patients with cytomegalovirus infection developed specific cellular immune responses to cytomegalovirus. This occurred most often in patients who had severe febrile illnesses in association with infection. The specific cellular immune response which developed in the posttransplant period did not persist in three of the patients. This study demonstrates the dissociation of the humoral and cellular immune response to cytomegalovirus infection in renal transplant patients and indicates the importance of the loss of cellular immunity in the appearance of infection. Previously infected patients lost their cell-mediated immunity and had reactivation infections despite the presence of serum antibody.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases