Recovery from primary cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is associated with resolution of the productive infection without clearance of the virus genome from affected organs. The presence of latent CMV genome in multiple organs provides the molecular basis for recurrence of CMV within multiple organs, and explains the diversity in the organ manifestations of recrudescent CMV disease during states of immunodeficiency. As a part of a unifying concept of multifocal CMV latency and recurrence, previous work has demonstrated the importance of primary virus replication for the overall load of latent CMV in organs and the risk of recurrence. In the present report, the establishment of CMV latency was studied in a murine model in which the course of primary infection in the immunocompromised host after syngeneic bone marrow transplantation was modulated by a CD8 T cell immunotherapy. The antiviral CD8 effector cells limited virus replication in all organs and protected the recipients from lethal CMV disease, but after resolution of the productive infection virus DNA remained. Interestingly, the copy number of latent virus DNA in tissue did not quantitatively reflect the preceding virus production in the respective organ. Specifically, in contrast to the case in the lungs and the salivary glands, virus replication in the spleen was suppressed by CD8 T cells to below the limit of detection; yet, virus DNA was also detected in the spleen during latency and accordingly, virus recurrence in the spleen could be induced. These findings demonstrate that the control of virus replication in a particular organ does not prevent the establishment of latency in that organ.


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