Seropositivity to herpes simplex virus type 2, but not type 1 is associated with premature cardiovascular diseases: a population-based cross-sectional study

Atherosclerosis. 2013 Nov;231(1):18-21. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.08.020. Epub 2013 Aug 29.


Objective: Thirty-five years after herpesviruses were suggested to induce atherosclerosis sero-epidemiological evidence on Herpes Simplex Viruses (HSV) remains sparse and controversial. We aimed to investigate the relationship between HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections and cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

Methods and results: A population-based cross-sectional study was conducted among 14,415 participants (mean age 34.3 years, range 20-49) of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2010. Serum IgG-antibodies to HSV were measured by enzymatic immunodot assay and CVD were self-reported. CVD prevalence was 1.8%; 51.3% of participants were infected with HSV-1, 7.5% with HSV-2, and 15.2% with both. After adjusting for demographics, socioeconomic status, comorbidities, STD, and CVD risk factors, seropositivity to HSV-2 was positively associated with CVD (Odds ratio [OR] 1.56, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.09-2.21, P = 0.014), but not with HSV-1 (OR 1.13, 95% CI: 0.79-1.62).

Conclusion: HSV-2 may be associated with premature CVD, but not HSV-1.

Keywords: Herpes simplex virus; Herpesvirus; NHANES; Premature cardiovascular diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Herpes Simplex / epidemiology*
  • Herpes Simplex / virology
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Risk Factors
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Immunoglobulin G