Latent infection with cytomegalovirus is associated with poor memory CD4 responses to influenza A core proteins in the elderly

Evelyna Derhovanessian, Andrea B Maier, Karin Hähnel, Janet E McElhaney, Eline P Slagboom, Graham Pawelec

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Influenza remains a major pathogen in older people. Infection with CMV and the accumulation of late-differentiated T cells associated with it have been implicated in poor Ab responsiveness to influenza vaccination in the elderly, most of whom are CMV positive. However, whether CMV infection also affects memory T cell responses to influenza remains unknown. To investigate this, we assessed T cell responses to influenza A matrix protein and nucleoprotein ex vivo in 166 Dutch individuals (mean age 62.2 y, range 42-82) and validated the results in a second cohort from North America (mean age 73.1 y, range 65-81, n = 28). We found that less than half of the CMV-infected older subjects mounted a CD4 T cell response to influenza Ags, whereas ∼80% of uninfected elderly did so. A similar proportion of younger subjects possessed influenza A virus-responsive CD4 T cells, and, interestingly, this was the case whether they were CMV-infected. Thus, the effect of CMV was only seen in the older donors, who may have been exposed to the virus for decades. The percentage of donors with CD8 responses to influenza A virus was lower than those with CD4; this was not influenced by whether the subjects were CMV seropositive or seronegative. CMV-seropositive responders had significantly higher frequencies of late-differentiated CD4 T-cells (CD45RA(+/-)CCR7(-)CD27(-)CD28(-)) compared with CMV-infected nonresponders. These data add to the accumulating evidence that infection with CMV has profound but heterogeneous effects on responses to the products of other viruses and have implications for the design of influenza vaccines, especially in the elderly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3624-31
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2014 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging/immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytomegalovirus/physiology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections/immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Influenza A virus/immunology
  • Influenza Vaccines/immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Viral Core Proteins/immunology
  • Virus Latency/immunology


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