Cytomegalovirus (CMV) seroprevalence in Japanese blood donors and high detection frequency of CMV DNA in elderly donors


Address correspondence to: Masahiro Satake, MD, Japanese Red Cross Central Blood Institute, 2-1-67, Tatsumi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-8521, Japan; e-mail:



The current prevalence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) in Japan and the risk of CMV transfusion transmission are unknown in the era of seronegative leukoreduced blood components.

Study Design and Methods

We measured CMV-specific immunoglobulin (Ig)M and IgG in 2400 samples of whole blood collected from 12 groups of blood donors categorized by sex and age at 10-year intervals from their teens to their 60s. We also tested for CMV DNA using polymerase chain reaction in the cellular fractions of all samples.


We found that 76.6% of blood donors were CMV seropositive. The seroprevalences among donors in their 20s and 30s were 58.3 and 73.3%, respectively. We detected CMV DNA in the cellular fraction of 4.3% of samples from donors in their 60s and in 1.0% of samples from donors younger than 60 years. None of the 562 seronegative samples was DNA positive. Furthermore, 14% of DNA-positive samples also contained DNA in the plasma fraction, and two of five such samples were derived from donors in their 60s. Leukoreduced plasma components derived from donations with CMV DNA in plasma samples also contained a relevant amount of CMV DNA.


The seroprevalence of CMV among Japanese blood donors of child-bearing age has not changed over the past 15 years. Latent CMV becomes reactivated more frequently among elderly donors than among younger donors. A proportion of them have free CMV DNA in their plasma fraction, which could not be diminished by leukoreduction. The risk of transfusion-transmitted CMV infection in blood with plasma CMV DNA should be determined.