The effect of prior cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection on the immune system was evaluated in young and elderly volunteers. Prevalence of IgG antibodies to CMV was higher in the elderly volunteers. In both age groups, there was a strong association with CMV seropositivity and increased number of CD28- CD4 or CD8 T cells, as well as with increased numbers of T cells expressing CD56 or DR. Although these changes have previously been reported to be age-related, they were independent of age when CMV serological status was taken into account. In contrast, both age group and CMV status were important determinants of the total number of T cells, the number of CD8 T cells, and the number of CD8 T cells expressing CD45RA or CD28. These findings indicate that prior infection with CMV, as reflected by CMV serological status, has important effects on T cell subsets and surface markers and must be considered whenever evaluating age-related changes in immunological parameters.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.