To determine the involvement of human cytomegalovirus (CMV) in conditions of neurological impairment, detection of CMV DNA was attempted in cerebrospinal fluid obtained from 45 neurologically affected children aged from 1 month to 17 years by means of the polymerase chain reaction. Four patients (congenital CMV encephalopathy with West's syndrome, acute encephalitis, chronic epileptic encephalopathy, and lissencephaly) had CMV DNA in their cerebrospinal fluid. CMV DNA was absent in the cerebrospinal fluid of 11 neurologically unaffected controls aged from 1 month to 11 years. Three patients with acute CMV hepatitis had no CMV DNA in their cerebrospinal fluid. Among the four patients who had CMV DNA in their cerebrospinal fluid, two did not excrete CMV DNA or CMV antigen in the urine. The possible pathogenetic significance of CMV DNA in the cerebrospinal fluid is discussed. By applying the polymerase chain reaction to cerebrospinal fluid, the mode of brain invasion by CMV can be clarified further.
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