The impact of CMV on the respiratory burst of macrophages in response to Pneumocystis carinii

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Infection of human monocyte-derived macrophages with CMV decreased the respiratory burst when cells were stimulated with opsonized zymosan or Pneumocystis carinii (P. carinii). Such an effect, though smaller, was also seen with heat-inactivated CMV, but only when triggered by zymosan. The effect was most pronounced in cells obtained from CMV antibody-negative donors. Dexamethasone further reduced the respiratory burst, both in uninfected and CMV-infected cells. Interferon-γ increased the response in uninfected cells and, to a lesser extend, in cells treated with heat-inactivated CMV, whereas no effect was seen with infective CMV. No overt productive infection or cytopathology could be detected, however, the monocytes incubated with infective but also heat-inactivated CMV formed clusters, a phenomenon that was equally pronounced in cultures from CMV antibody positive and negative-donors. These results might help explain the worse prognosis of P. carinii pneumonia in patients coinfected with CMV and receiving dexamethasone.

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