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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is endemic in Gambian infants, with 62% infected by 3 months and 85% by 12 months of age. We studied the CD8 T-cell responses of infants to CMV following primary infection. CMV-specific CD8 T cells, identified with tetramers, showed a fully differentiated phenotype (CD28(-) CD62L(-) CD95(+) perforin(+) granzyme A(+) Bcl-2(low)). Strikingly, the overall CD8 T-cell population developed a similar phenotype following CMV infection, which persisted for at least 12 months. In contrast, primary infection was accompanied by up-regulation of markers of activation (CD45R0 and HLA-D) on both CMV-specific cells and the overall CD8 T-cell population and division (Ki-67) of specific cells, but neither pattern persisted. At 12 months of age, the CD8 T-cell population of CMV-infected infants was more differentiated than that of uninfected infants. Although the subpopulation of CMV-specific cells remained constant, the CMV peptide-specific gamma interferon response was lower in younger infants and increased with age. As the CD8 T-cell phenotype induced by CMV is indicative of immune dysfunction in the elderly, the existence of a similar phenotype in large numbers of Gambian infants raises the question of whether CMV induces a similarly deleterious effect.

Original publication




Journal article


J Virol

Publication Date





5766 - 5776


Adult, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cell Differentiation, Cells, Cultured, Cross-Sectional Studies, Cytomegalovirus, Cytomegalovirus Infections, Female, Gambia, Humans, Immunophenotyping, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Longitudinal Studies, Lymphocyte Activation, Lymphocyte Count, Male