Forty‐two seropositive children aged 3 to 5 years attending a kindergarten were followed up for 1 year in order to examine the relationship between humoral immunity and cytomegalovirus (CMV) excretion status. Anti‐CMV antibodies were measured at the beginning and end of the study by enzyme‐linked immunosorbent assay, neutralizing antibody test, and immunoblot techniques. Among these children, 32 persistently shed virus in urine, 2 intermittently shed CMV, and 4 experienced reactivation during the study. Virus was never isolated from 4 seropositive children. The level of anti‐CMV IgG antibody in seropositive children who remained nonshedders was significantly higher than in children who shed virus during follow‐up. On immunoblots, all seropositive nonshedders reacted to a CMV‐specific 65 kD antigen, whereas most shedders (80%) did not. These findings suggest that humoral immunity plays a role in controlling persistent CMV infection in children with asymptomatic infection. However, the humoral immunity measured by the neutralizing test and the presence of antibodies against CMV‐specific envelope antigens (116 kD/55 kD) apparently play a limited role in modifying persistent excretion and regulating reactivation of latent CMV. Immune evasion by CMV to block these antigens may explain these results. © 1994 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
- immune evasion
- viral recurrence