Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviors, and Epstein-Barr Virus Antibodies in Young Adults

Physiol Behav. 2016 Oct 1;164(Pt A):390-4. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.06.026. Epub 2016 Jun 21.


This study aimed to elucidate the associations between physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antibody levels (as an indirect marker of cell-mediated immunity, CMI). This study made use of a 14-year longitudinal study with a representative sample of adolescents in the US. A total of 3361 participants (42.1% male) aged 11 to 21years at baseline who completed Wave I (1994-1995), Wave III (2001-2002), and Wave IV (2008) surveys of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) were analyzed. Physical activity and sedentary behaviors at Waves I and III were assessed using interviewer-administered questionnaire. EBV viral capsid antigen (VCA) IgG antibody levels at Wave IV were analyzed from dried blood spot assays. Adjusted for confounders, among males, one additional day spent per week on strenuous sports at Wave III were associated with a decrease of 4.09AU/ml in EBV antibody levels (p=0.012), while one additional hour spent per week viewing videos at Wave I was associated with an increase of 0.83AU/ml in EBV antibody levels (p=0.026). Among females, one additional day spent per week on individual sports at Wave III were associated with a decrease of 4.63AU/ml in EBV antibody levels (p=0.014), while sedentary behaviors were not associated with EBV antibody levels. To conclude, physical activity and sedentary behaviors were associated with CMI among males and physical activity was associated with CMI among females.

Keywords: Add Health; Cell-mediated immunity; Exercise; Herpesvirus; Longitudinal study; Pediatrics.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Child
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / physiology*
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood*
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Species Specificity
  • Sports / physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Walking / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G