Cytomegalovirus and Aging Combine to Damage the Immune System

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HCMV

The concept of accelerating decline in the immune system caused by persistent infections has been suggested in many studies. – Immunity and Aging (1)

Aging and latent viruses join forces in a vicious cycle.

Aging decreases the efficiency of the immune system. As a result, the concentration of latent viruses increases. This further decreases the efficiency of the immune system, which in turn, increases the numbers of latent virus, and on and on until death do us part.

One major player in this vicious cycle is the Cytomegalovirus (CMV). 

cmv disease

“Persistent cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections … have been found to increase immunosenescence. (1)” Immunosenescence refers to the gradual deterioration of the immune system brought on by aging.

Another study showed that the highest levels of CMV were “found in frail older people” and “among seropositive non-immunocompromised individuals.” (2)

In other words, CMV was found in high levels among older, relatively healthy individuals, and the presence of the virus was making them weak!

As these studies indicate, disease and health problems all seem to develop faster as aging and latent viruses combine to form a vicious cycle.

Obviously, one cannot do much about aging, but is it possible to break the vicious cycle by fighting latent, viral infections?

References:

(1) Michiel B Haeseker,* Evelien Pijpers, Nicole HTM Dukers-Muijrers, Patty Nelemans, Christian JPA Hoebel,Cathrien A Bruggeman, Annelies Verbon and Valère J Goossens “Association of cytomegalovirus and other
pathogens with frailty and diabetes mellitus, but not with cardiovascular disease and mortality in psycho-geriatric patients; a prospective cohort study” Immunity & Ageing 2013, 10:30

(2) McVoy MA, Adler SP: Immunologic evidence for frequent age-related cytomegalovirus reactivation in seropositive immunocompetent individuals. J Infect Dis1989, 160:1–10.

 

 

 

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