Linking Indirect Effects of Cytomegalovirus in Transplantation to Modulation of Monocyte Innate Immune Function


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in the immunocompromised host. In transplant recipients, a variety of clinically important “indirect effects” are attributed to immune modulation by CMV, including increased mortality from fungal disease, allograft dysfunction and rejection in solid organ transplantation, and graft-versus-host-disease in stem cell transplantation. Monocytes, key cellular targets of CMV, are permissive to primary, latent and reactivated CMV infection. Here, pairing unbiased bulk and single cell transcriptomics with functional analyses we demonstrate that human monocytes infected with CMV do not effectively phagocytose fungal pathogens, a functional deficit which occurs with decreased expression of fungal recognition receptors. Simultaneously, CMV-infected monocytes upregulate antiviral, pro-inflammatory chemokine, and inflammasome responses associated with allograft rejection and graft-versus-host disease. Our study demonstrates that CMV modulates both immunosuppressive and immunostimulatory monocyte phenotypes, explaining in part, its paradoxical “indirect effects” in transplantation. These data could provide innate immune targets for the stratification and treatment of CMV disease.

Science Advances