Center for Human Genetics and Laboratory Diagnostics, Dr. Klein, Dr. Rost and Colleagues

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Dr. med. Hartmut Campe, Dr. med. Hanns-Georg Klein

Scientific Background

The ubiquitous Cytomegalovirus (CMV) belongs to the group of Herpes viruses. Infection is usually inapparent, and the degree of infection in the general population is approximately 40-50%. Primary infection in pregnancy can lead to severe damage to the child, including neurological defects. CMV infection is the most frequent congenital infection worldwide. The virus persists for a lifetime in the salivary glands, lungs, kidneys and leukocytes, whereby a reactivation with severe generalized disease progression (retinitis, gastroenteritis, hepatitis, encephalitis, pneumonia) can occur, especially in immunocompromised patients (e.g. AIDS, after organ or bone marrow transplant, tumor patients). In the first weeks of life, diagnosis is best made from urine or pharyngeal lavage.

CMV infection can be detected using antibody techniques (CMIA, ELISA). Direct detection techniques include viral culture from urine, saliva, biopsy material, cervical secretions and blood. The molecular biological techniques of PCR and hybridization allow the quantitative analysis of virus DNA.