Modulation of radiation-induced genetic damage by HCMV: A glioma case-control study

Elizabeth Rourke, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection occurs early in life and leads to life-long viral persistence. An association between HCMV infection and malignant gliomas has been reported suggesting that HCMV may play a role in glioma pathogenesis. The reported effects of HCMV on cells suggest that it could facilitate accrual of genotoxic damage. We therefore tested the hypothesis that HCMV infection modifies the sensitivity of cells to genetic damage from environmental insults such as γ-irradiation. Peripheral blood lymphocytes from 110 glioma patients and 100 controls were used to measure the level of both chromosome damage and cell death as endpoints for genetic instability. For each study participant, the extent of baseline, HCMV-, γ-radiation- and both – induced genetic instability was evaluated. Radiation induced a significant increase in aberration frequency over baseline in both cases and controls. Similarly, HCMV induced a significant increase in aberration frequency regardless of the disease status. Interestingly, HCMV induced damage was either equal or higher than that induced by radiation. Infected with HCMV prior to challenge with γ-radiation demonstrated a significant increase in the aberration frequency as compared to baseline, radiation- or HCMV-treated cells. With regards to apoptosis, cases showed a lower percentage of induction following in vitro exposure to γ-radiation and/or HCMV infection. The level of apoptosis was inversely related to the amount of chromosome damage in the cases, but not in the controls. These data indicate that, HCMV infection enhances the sensitivity of PBLs to γ-radiation-induced genetic damage.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Rourke, Elizabeth, "Modulation of radiation-induced genetic damage by HCMV: A glioma case-control study" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1462368.