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Transplantation-related pathogenic factors such as ischemia or allograft-directed inflammation are associated with oxidative changes that might lead to cellular oxidative stress. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of oxidative stress on: (1) CMV replication in cultured human endothelial cells and (2) the stimulation of endothelial cells by proinflammatory cytokines. Both pathomechanisms are known to contribute to graft rejection crises in vivo. Oxidative stress was induced in endothelial cell cultures with 10-200 μM buthionine sulfoximine. Western blotting showed a significant increase in the production of CMV-specific immediate early and late proteins in buthionine sulfoximine-treated cultures. Immunocytochemical staining suggested that this effect was caused by increased numbers of CMV antigen expressing cells (66% immediate early; 78%, late). Quantitative polymerase chain reaction for CMV-specific DNA and virus titration revealed that enhanced viral replication levels correlated with increased virion production. As a measure for the endothelial cell activation status, the surface expression of HLA-ABC and HLA-DR and adhesion molecules(ICAM-1, ELAM-1, VCAM-1) was quantified by fluorometric methods. Whereas oxidative stress alone did not modulate any surface molecule expression, the IFN-γ-mediated expression of HLA-ABC and HLA-DR and the IL-1-mediated expression of ICAM-1, but not of ELAM-1 and VCAM-1 (IL-1+TNF-α), was amplified. Interestingly, the amplification of HLA molecule expression was even higher in CMV-infected endothelial cells. This study provides evidence that oxidative stress contributes to the regulation of CMV replication, virus shedding, and the activation of endothelial cells by proinflammatory cytokines as it is observed in transplant recipients.