Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) UL44 and UL57 specific antibody responses in anti-HCMV-positive patients with systemic sclerosis
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) IgM serum antibodies to two nonstructural gene products UL44 and UL57 (p52 and CM2) were assayed in patients with the diagnosis of the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) according to criteria established by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A subset of 16 CFS patients demonstrated HCMV IgG, but no HCMV IgM serum antibodies to conformational structural HCMV antigens (designated, V). By convention, these findings are interpreted to indicate only a remote HCMV infection. However, HCMV IgM p52 and CM2 antibodies were uniquely present in these 16 CFS patients. Other CFS patients with similar HCMV (V) IgG antibodies (18 patients), non-fatigued HCMV (V) IgG-positive control patients (18 patients), random HCMV (V) IgG-positive control patients from a clinical laboratory (26 patients), and non-fatigued HCMV (V) IgG-negative control patients (15 patients) did not have HCMV, IgM p52 or CM2 serum antibodies (p < 0.05). Control HCMV (V) IgG-positive patients had no serum IgM HCMV (V) antibodies to conventional structural HCMV (V) antigen. Thus, 77 various control patients did not contain IgM p52 or CM2 serum antibodies. The presence of IgM p52 and/or CM2 HCMV serum antibodies in this subset of CSF-specific patients may detect incomplete HCMV multiplication in which a part of the HCMV protein-coding content of the HCMV genome is processed, but remains unassembled. These findings suggest that the presence of HCMV IgM p52 and CM2 serum antibodies may be a specific diagnostic test for the diagnosis of a subset of CFS patients. Further, these data suggest an etiologic relationship for HCMV infection in this group of CFS patients.