Virological and immunological characteristics of human cytomegalovirus infection associated with Alzheimer disease

J Infect Dis. 2013 Aug 15;208(4):564-72. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit210. Epub 2013 May 9.


Serum, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and cryopreserved lymphocytes from subjects in the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center Religious Orders Study were analyzed for associations between cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and clinical and pathological markers of Alzheimer disease. CMV antibody levels were associated with neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). CSF interferon γ was only detected in seropositive subjects and was significantly associated with NFTs. The percentage of senescent T cells (CD4+ or CD8+CD28-CD57+) was significantly higher for CMV-seropositive as compared to CMV-seronegative subjects and was marginally associated with the pathologic diagnosis of Alzheimer disease (CD4+) or amyloid-β (CD8+). Immunocytochemical analysis showed induction of amyloid-β in human foreskin fibroblasts (HFFs) infected with each of 3 clinical CMV strains. In the same subjects, there was no association of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) antibody levels with CMV antibody levels or clinical or pathological markers of Alzheimer disease. HSV-1 infection of HFFs did not induce amyloid-β. These data support an association between CMV and the development of Alzheimer disease.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; CD28-/CD57+ T cells; amyloid-β; cytomegalovirus; interferon-gamma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / analysis
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / complications
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / immunology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / virology*
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / chemistry
  • Fibroblasts / virology
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Male
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Interferon-gamma