Understanding the interaction between cytomegalovirus and tuberculosis in children: The way forward
Olbrich L., Stockdale L., Basu Roy R., Song R., Cicin-Sain L., Whittaker E., Prendergast AJ., Fletcher H., Seddon JA.
Over 1 million children develop tuberculosis (TB) each year, with a quarter dying. Multiple factors impact the risk of a child being exposed to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the risk of progressing to TB disease, and the risk of dying. However, an emerging body of evidence suggests that coinfection with cytomegalovirus (CMV), a ubiquitous herpes virus, impacts the host response to Mtb, potentially influencing the probability of disease progression, type of TB disease, performance of TB diagnostics, and disease outcome. It is also likely that infection with Mtb impacts CMV pathogenesis. Our current understanding of the burden of these 2 diseases in children, their immunological interactions, and the clinical consequence of coinfection is incomplete. It is also unclear how potential interventions might affect disease progression and outcome for TB or CMV. This article reviews the epidemiological, clinical, and immunological literature on CMV and TB in children and explores how the 2 pathogens interact, while also considering the impact of HIV on this relationship. It outlines areas of research uncertainty and makes practical suggestions as to potential studies that might address these gaps. Current research is hampered by inconsistent definitions, study designs, and laboratory practices, and more consistency and collaboration between researchers would lead to greater clarity. The ambitious targets outlined in the World Health Organization End TB Strategy will only be met through a better understanding of all aspects of child TB, including the substantial impact of coinfections.