Cytomegalovirus is associated with depression and anxiety in older adults

Brain Behav Immun. 2008 Jan;22(1):52-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2007.06.012. Epub 2007 Aug 20.


Infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV), a beta-herpesvirus, is common within the population. Although asymptomatic, infection is associated with increased serum concentrations of cytokines such as TNFalpha and IL-6, which are also related to mood and wellbeing. The present study examined whether infection with CMV was associated with mood in a community-based sample of older adults. Blood samples and scores on the General Health Questionnaire were available for 137 participants. Serum was analysed for the presence of CMV-specific IgG and the antibody titre was used as an indirect measure of viral load. The majority of the participants (66%) were CMV-seropositive and seropositive status was not associated with psychological morbidity. However, within the CMV-positive group, individuals with higher CMV-specific antibody titres were more likely to be depressed, anxious, and suffer more overall psychological morbidity. This association could be mediated by the impact of affect-moderating cytokines secreted through the CMV-specific immune response.

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Anxiety / virology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / immunology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / virology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Serologic Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antibodies, Viral