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Early-life environment influencing susceptibility to cytomegalovirus infection: evidence from the Leiden Longevity Study and the Longitudinal Study of Aging Danish Twins

  • L. H. MORTENSEN (a1), A. B. MAIER (a2) (a3), P. E. SLAGBOM (a3) (a4), G. PAWELEC (a5), E. DERHOVANESSIAN (a5), I. PETERSEN (a1), G. JAHN (a6), R. G. J. WESTENDORP (a2) (a3) and K. CHRISTENSEN (a1)...

Summary

Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common herpesvirus establishing lifelong persisting infection, which has been implicated in immunosenescence and mortality in the elderly. Little is known about how and when susceptibility to CMV infection is determined. We measured CMV seroprevalence in two genetically informative cohorts. From the Leiden Longevity Study (LLS) we selected long-lived sib-pairs (n=844) and their middle-aged offspring and the offspring's partners (n=1452). From the Longitudinal Study of Aging Danish Twins (LSADT) 604 (302 pairs) same-sex monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins aged 73–94 years were included (n=302 pairs). Offspring of the long-lived LLS participants had significantly lower seroprevalence of CMV compared to their partners (offspring: 42% vs. partners: 51%, P=0·003). Of 372 offspring living with a CMV-positive partner, only 58% were infected. The corresponding number for partners was 71% (P<0·001). In the LSADT, MZ and DZ twins had high and similar CMV-positive concordance rates (MZ: 90% vs. DZ: 88%, P=0·51) suggesting that shared family environment accounts for the similarity within twin pairs. Our findings suggest that susceptibility to CMV infection – even under continuous within-partnership exposure – appears to be more strongly influenced by early-life environment than by genetic factors and adult environment.

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Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: Dr L. H. Mortensen, Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1419 Copenhagen K, Denmark. (Email: laust.mortensen@gmail.com)

References

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