Infrequency of cytomegalovirus genome in coronary arteriopathy of human heart allografts

J. M. Gulizia, R. Kandolf, T. J. Kendall, S. L. Thieszen, J. E. Wilson, S. J. Radio, M. R. Costanzo, G. L. Winters, L. L. Miller, B. M. McManus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


In heart transplantation, long-term engraftment success is severely limited by the rapid development of obliterative disease of the coronary arteries. Data from various groups have been suggestive of a pathogenetic role of herpesviruses, particularly human cytomegalovirus, in accelerated allograft coronary artery disease; however, results are not yet conclusive. This study examines the hypothesis that human cytomegalovirus infection of allograft tissues is related pathogenetically and directly to accelerated coronary artery disease. Using in situ DNA hybridization and polymerase chain reaction, we examined particular coronary artery segments from 41 human heart allografts (ranging from 4 days to greater than 4 years after transplantation; mean, 457 days) and 22 donor age- and gender-comparable, coronary site-matched trauma victims for presence of human cytomegalovirus DNA. Human cytomegalovirus genome was detected in 8 of 41 (19. 5%) allografts and in 1 of 22 (4.5%) control hearts. This difference in positivity was not statistically significant (P = 0.10). In the human cytomegalovirus-positive hearts, viral genome was localized to perivascular myocardium or coronary artery media or adventitia. Human cytomegalovirus genome was not detected in arterial intima of any allograft or control heart, although human cytomegalovirus genome was readily identified within intima of small pulmonary arteries from lung tissue with human cytomegalovirus pneumonitis. By statistical analyses, the presence of human cytomegalovirus genome was not associated with the nature or digitized extent of transplant arteriopathy, evidence of rejection, allograft recipient or donor serological data suggestive of human cytomegalovirus infection, duration of allograft implantation, or causes of death or retransplantation. Thus, our data indicate a low frequency of detectable human cytomegalovirus genome in accelerated coronary artery disease and do not support a direct role for human cytomegalovirus in vascular wall infection or in the development of accelerated coronary artery disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-475
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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