Maturation of the immune system in the fetus and the implications for congenital CMV

Erez Rechavi*, Raz Somech

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is the most prevalent and consequential congenital infection, among others, that affects approximately 0.6% of all live births worldwide. Timing of maternal infection and maternal immune status largely determine the likelihood of a symptomatic infection. However, recent studies suggest that the fetal immune system, long perceived as naïve and immature, may also play a role in deciding the outcome of congenital CMV infection. Here, we review the development of four immune cells most pertinent to CMV control in the human fetus. αβT cells, B cells, natural killer (NK) cells, and γδT cells are all present, mature and partially functional in utero, and are capable of mounting some form of response to congenital CMV infection. Whether this response is negligible, effective, or harmful remains an open question. Expanding our knowledge of normal and abnormal immune development could provide clinicians with more accurate tools for the detection, monitoring, and treatment of congenital CMV infection in fetuses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalBest Practice and Research in Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Adaptive immunity
  • Congenital CMV infection
  • Fetal development


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