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Immunohistochemical and in situ detection of cytomegalovirus in lung autopsies of children immunocompromised by secondary interstitial pneumonia

Pathology - Research and Practice
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.prp.2003.12.004
  • Interstitial Pneumonia
  • Children
  • Cmv Infection
  • Diffuse Alveolar Damage
  • Non-Specific Interstitial Pneumonia
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Abstract Secondary interstitial pneumonia (SIP), a disease affecting patients immunocompromised by primary underlying diseases during their treatment in hospital, is frequently associated with cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, a potentially treatable condition. However, in many cases, no infectious agent can be determined, and this clinical disease rapidly progresses to death. Theoretically, SIP could be caused by CMV, which may be present in such small amounts or such configuration that routine histopathological analysis or viral culture techniques cannot detect the virus. To test the hypothesis that immunohistochemistry (IH) and in situ detection by hybridization (ISH) provides more accurate results than the mere histological demonstration of CMV inclusions, these methods were applied to 37 autopsied lung sections obtained from children immunocompromised by primary underlying diseases and who died of SIP. As a result, the cases were subdivided into three groups: (1) children with SIP CMV inclusions (Diffuse alveolar damage—DAD-related) ( n=7); (2) children with SIP without classical viral inclusions (CMV-DAD-related) ( n=3); (3) children with SIP exhibiting nuclear cytopathic effect (not CMV-NSIP-related) ( n=27). In the first group, all three techniques yielded clearly positive results, whereas IH and ISH indicated that three of the children of the second group had CMV-related DAD without histological demonstration of CMV inclusions. In the third group, there were no positive CMV signals. These data indicate that DAD-related CMV infection is an important cause of SIP and of death in children immunosuppressed by primary underlying diseases, and that IH and in situ detection were more sensitive than the histological demonstration of CMV inclusions. A direct involvement of CMV in SIP exhibiting DAD is likely, but not in the non-specific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP) pattern. We conclude that all children with primary underlying diseases should be investigated for CMV SIP using sensitive IH and in situ tests in conjunction with histological routine procedures.

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