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Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) are highly polymorphic members of the immunoglobulin superfamily, which influence the response of natural killer cells and some T-lymphocyte subsets. Analysis of a cohort of previously human cytomegalovirus (HCMV)-negative patients, who developed primary HCMV infection following HCMV-positive renal transplant (n=76), revealed an increase in the frequency of KIR genes located on the telomeric region of B haplotypes (Tel B). The presence of Tel B in combination with the KIR ligand HLA-C2 was significantly more frequent in this subgroup. These genetic factors were associated with resistance to HCMV infection in a second cohort (n=65), where the Tel B genes KIR2DL5, -2DS1, 2DS5 and -3DS1 were all significantly associated with high viral loads. Furthermore, the KIR haplotype Tel A when in combination with the KIR ligand HLA-C1 was significantly protective against the development of severe infection. Our results suggest that KIR are a significant factor in the control of primary HCMV infection, and that determination of KIR gene repertoire may help in detection of renal transplant patients who were most at risk.

Original publication




Journal article


Genes Immun

Publication Date





562 - 568


Cohort Studies, Cytomegalovirus, Cytomegalovirus Infections, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genotype, HLA-C Antigens, Haplotypes, Host-Pathogen Interactions, Humans, Kidney Transplantation, Receptors, KIR, Receptors, KIR2DL5, Receptors, KIR3DS1, Risk Factors, Severity of Illness Index, Telomere, Viral Load