Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 116, Issue 1, pp 79–86 | Cite as

Detection of human cytomegalovirus in different histological types of gliomas

  • Michael E. Scheurer
  • Melissa L. Bondy
  • Kenneth D. Aldape
  • Thomas Albrecht
  • Randa El-ZeinEmail author
Original Paper


The association between human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection and glioblastoma has been a source of debate in recent years because of conflicting laboratory reports concerning the presence of the virus in glioma tissue. HCMV is a ubiquitous herpesvirus that exhibits tropism for glial cells and has been shown to transform cells in vitro. Using sensitive immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization methods in 50 glioma samples, we detected HCMV antigen and DNA in 21/21 cases of glioblastoma, 9/12 cases of anaplastic gliomas and 14/17 cases of low-grade gliomas. Reactivity against the HCMV IE1 antigen (72 kDa) exhibited histology-specific patterns with more nuclear staining for anaplastic and low-grade gliomas, while GBMs showed nuclear and cytoplasmic staining that likely occurs with latent infection. Using IHC, the number of HCMV-positive cells in GBMs was 79% compared to 48% in lower grade tumors. Non-tumor areas of the tissue contained only four and 1% of HCMV-positive cells for GBMs and lower grade tumors, respectively. Hybridization to HCMV DNA in infected cells corresponded to patterns of immunoreactivity. Our findings support previous reports of the presence of HCMV infection in glioma tissues and advocate optimization of laboratory methods for the detection of active HCMV infections. This will allow for detection of low-level latent infections that may play an important role in the initiation and/or promotion of malignant gliomas.


Glioblastoma Human cytomegalovirus Immunohistochemistry In situ hybridization 



This study was supported by the NCI grant CA070917 (PI: Bondy). ME Scheurer was supported by the R25 fellowship, M.D. Anderson Education Program in Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute Grant CA 57730 (PI: Chamberlain). T Albrecht was supported by ES10018. We thank Loui Harkins for her thoughtful insights into the methods of immunohistochemistry and ISH for the detection of HCMV infection in brain tissue. We also thank Amy Renfro and Phyllis Adatto for their help in organizing the clinical specimens and data management, and Alicia Ledoux for preparing the slides of the tumor specimens.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael E. Scheurer
    • 1
  • Melissa L. Bondy
    • 1
  • Kenneth D. Aldape
    • 2
  • Thomas Albrecht
    • 3
  • Randa El-Zein
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyThe University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyThe University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Department Microbiology and ImmunologyThe University of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA

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