It is essential to identify donors who have not been infected with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) in order to avoid transmission of HCMV to recipients of blood transfusions or organ transplants. In the present study, we tested the reliability of seronegativity as an indicator for the lack of HCMV exposure in healthy human blood donors. Eighty-two HCMV seronegative individuals were identified, and their peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were tested in ImmunoSpot® assays for the presence of HCMV-specific T- and B-memory lymphocytes. Eighty-two percent (67 of 82) of these HCMV seronegative individuals featured at least one memory cell that was lineage specific for HCMV, with the majority of these subjects possessing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, as well as B cells, providing three independent lines of evidence for having developed immunity to HCMV. Only 15 of these 82 donors (18%) showed neither T- nor B-cell memory to HCMV, consistent with immunological naïveté to the virus. The data suggest that measurements of serum antibodies frequently fail to reveal HCMV exposure in humans, which may be better identified by direct detection of HCMV-specific memory lymphocytes.
Terlutter, F., Caspell, R., Nowacki, T., Lehmann, A., Li, R., Zhang, T., … Lehmann, P. (2018). Direct Detection of T- and B-Memory Lymphocytes by ImmunoSpot® Assays Reveals HCMV Exposure that Serum Antibodies Fail to Identify. Cells, 7(5), 45. https://doi.org/10.3390/cells7050045