ABSTRACT— Liver biopsies of six previously normal hosts (Group I, NH), with recent or acute CMV infection, and autopsy liver samples of four immunocompromised hosts (Group II, ICH) with overwhelming CMV infection have been studied in an occasional survey. In both groups, portal tract involvement, bile duct inflammation, liver cell degeneration and parenchymal granulomas were present. In Group I, a randomly distributed hepatitis with predominant involvement of the periportal areas was present, including sinusoidal arrays of lymphocytes and lymphohistiocytic aggregates. In contrast, in Group II liver cell damage was more extensive and the inflammatory infiltration only scarce. Intracellular viral inclusion bodies were found only in Group II, both in liver cells and in bile duct epithelium. Morphologically, the presence of viral inclusion bodies correlated well with the immunohistologic demonstration of CMV specific “late” (CMV-LA) or structural antigens. In addition, CMV-specific “early” (CMV-EA) or non-structural antigens were present in liver cell nuclei of 2/6 NH and 2/4 ICH.
The possible relations between the inflammation and the lack of structural antigenic viral expression are discussed. It is concluded that ICH with CMV infection have a prominent cytopathogenic effect and widespread lytic viral infection in the liver in the absence of adequate immunologic reactivity, whereas the opposite is found in NH.