• Maternal antibodies;
  • T cells;
  • Transplantation

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is widespread in the human population. Normally, in adolescents and adults, prior exposure to CMV can readily be determined by IgG assays. However, in individuals where antibody production is impaired, such as patients with common variable immunodeficiency disease or in the very young where maternal antibodies are present, diagnosis of CMV infection is problematic using such assays. In this issue of the European Journal of Immunology, a study by Sester and colleagues [Eur J Immunol 2013. 43: 1099-1108] using CD4+ T-cell immunity as a marker of infection clearly differentiates young children with prior exposure to CMV from those who only have passive maternal antibody. This information will quickly find application in the pretransplant screening of young children for CMV infection and help with the stratification of these children to identify those who are truly CMV negative and are therefore at risk for future CMV infection and disease if receiving an organ from a CMV-positive donor as discussed in this Commentary.