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Sacher, Torsten; Andrassy, Joachim; Kalnins, Aivars; Dölken, Lars; Jordan, Stefan; Podlech, Jürgen; Ruzsics, Zsolt; Jauch, Karl-Walter; Reddehase, Matthias J.; Koszinowski, Ulrich H. (November 2011): Shedding light on the elusive role of endothelial cells in cytomegalovirus dissemination.
In: PLoS pathogens 7(11), e1002366




Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is frequently transmitted by solid organ transplantation and is associated with graft failure. By forming the boundary between circulation and organ parenchyma, endothelial cells (EC) are suited for bidirectional virus spread from and to the transplant. We applied Cre/loxP-mediated green-fluorescence-tagging of EC-derived murine CMV (MCMV) to quantify the role of infected EC in transplantation-associated CMV dissemination in the mouse model. Both EC- and non-EC-derived virus originating from infected Tie2-cre(+) heart and kidney transplants were readily transmitted to MCMV-naïve recipients by primary viremia. In contrast, when a Tie2-cre(+) transplant was infected by primary viremia in an infected recipient, the recombined EC-derived virus poorly spread to recipient tissues. Similarly, in reverse direction, EC-derived virus from infected Tie2-cre(+) recipient tissues poorly spread to the transplant. These data contradict any privileged role of EC in CMV dissemination and challenge an indiscriminate applicability of the primary and secondary viremia concept of virus dissemination.