Cytomegalovirus is associated with depression and anxiety in older adults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-55
Number of pages4
JournalBrain, Behaviour, and Immunity
Issue number1
Early online date20 Aug 2007
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • anxiety, ageing, depression, cytomegalovirus