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Detection of cytomegalovirus in paraffin-embedded postmortem coronary artery specimens of heart transplant recipients by the polymerase chain reaction: implications of cytomegalovirus association with graft atherosclerosis



Detection of cytomegalovirus in paraffin-embedded postmortem coronary artery specimens of heart transplant recipients by the polymerase chain reaction: implications of cytomegalovirus association with graft atherosclerosis



Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation 12(5): 717-723



To assess the presence of cytomegalovirus in various tissues and its relevance to the development of graft atherosclerosis, 54 postmortem paraffin-embedded tissue samples from 15 heart transplant recipients who survived more than 100 days were analyzed by the polymerase chain reaction for cytomegalovirus. Eight patients had known previous cytomegalovirus exposure; 7 patients did not. Of the eight with known previous exposure, three patients (38%) died of graft atherosclerosis versus four (57%) of the seven patients without previous exposure. Of the 54 specimens, 49 were positive for beta-globin (inclusive positive control), including 38 coronary artery, five lung, five gastrointestinal, and one kidney. Only two coronary artery specimens were cytomegalovirus positive in a single patient with known cytomegalovirus exposure who did not have evidence of graft atherosclerosis at autopsy. Other tissues tested showed positive lung and stomach specimens in the patient with cytomegalovirus-positive coronary artery specimens and positive kidney, lung, and gastrointestinal specimens in a second patient. No specimens were cytomegalovirus positive in the remaining patients, despite the presence of graft atherosclerosis or previous cytomegalovirus exposure. Our data do not support the hypothesis that graft atherosclerosis is associated with latent cytomegalovirus infection of the coronary arteries. The role of cytomegalovirus in the pathogenesis of graft atherosclerosis is unknown, but possibly it represents a modulation of the immune system by remote infection.

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Accession: 008439244

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PMID: 8241208


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