Congenital human cytomegalovirus infection is associated with decreased transplacental IgG transfer efficiency due to maternal hypergammaglobulinemia.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Placentally-transferred maternal IgG protects against pathogens in early life, yet vertically-transmitted infections can interfere with transplacental IgG transfer. Although human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is the most common placentally-transmitted viral infection worldwide, the impact of congenital HCMV (cCMV) infection on transplacental IgG transfer has been underexplored.


We evaluated total and antigen-specific maternal and cord blood IgG levels and transplacental IgG transfer efficiency in a U.S-based cohort of 93 mother-infant pairs including 27 cCMV-infected and 66 cCMV-uninfected pairs, of which 29 infants were born to HCMV-seropositive non-transmitting mothers and 37 to HCMV-seronegative mothers. Controls were matched on sex, race/ethnicity, maternal age, and delivery year.


Transplacental IgG transfer efficiency was decreased by 23% (95% CI 10-36%, p=0.0079) in cCMV-infected pairs and 75% of this effect (95% CI 28-174%, p=0.0085) was mediated by elevated maternal IgG levels (i.e., hypergammaglobulinemia) in HCMV-transmitting women. Despite reduced transfer efficiency, IgG levels were similar in cord blood from infants with and without cCMV infection.


Our results indicate that cCMV infection moderately reduces transplacental IgG transfer efficiency due to maternal hypergammaglobulinemia; however, infants with and without cCMV infection had similar antigen-specific IgG levels, suggesting comparable protection from maternal IgG acquired via transplacental transfer.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Semmes, EC; Li, SH; Hurst, JH; Yang, Z; Niedzwiecki, D; Fouda, GG; Kurtzberg, J; Walsh, KM; Permar, SR

Published Date

  • July 14, 2021

Published In

PubMed ID

  • 34260701

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1537-6591

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1058-4838

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/cid/ciab627


  • eng