Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Pathobiological Sciences

Document Type



Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a ubiquitous pathogen which infects 50-90% of the world population and results in lifelong latent infection with periodic transient reactivations. In immunocompetent populations acute infection is generally asymptomatic but seropositivity is associated with many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Despite 139 years of research into HCMV pathogenesis there is still no licensed vaccine and many gaps in the general knowledge of the virus. This includes the role of long term infection as it pertains to chronic diseases. In these studies, murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) was used as a model of HCMV pathogenesis in the heart. MCMV shares similar sequence homology and recapitulates many aspects of HCMV infection. The studies presented in this dissertation evaluate phenotypic and functional changes within the heart during acute and latent MCMV infection. In addition, we have characterized murine aortic smooth muscle cells in the context of MCMV infection and determined a role for virally encoded G-protein coupled receptor homologs, M33 and US28, in promoting cardiac damage and dysfunction during MCMV infection of the heart. Our results indicate that MCMV infection induces changes in the microenvironment of the heart that leads to phenotypic alteration and induces cardiac dysfunction that may shed insight into HCMV-associated cardiovascular diseases.



Committee Chair

Cardin, Rhonda



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