Anti-cytomegalovirus antibody levels stratify human immune profiles across the lifespan

Makiko Watanabe, Lisa Davidson, Patricia Smith, Peter F. Castellucio, Mladen Jergovic, Jennifer L. Uhrlaub, Megan J. Smithey, Lori E. Fantry, Brett Dechambre, Rachel C. Wilson, Kenneth C. Knox, Jie Ren, Raymond P. Stowe, George Weinstock, Homer Twigg, Janko Nikolich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) is a ubiquitous latent persistent herpesvirus infecting 60–90% of the population worldwide. hCMV carriage in immunocompetent people is asymptomatic; thus, hCMV can be considered a component of normative aging. However, hCMV powerfully modulates many features of the immune, and likely other, systems and organs. Questions remain as to how hCMV carriage affects the human host. We used anti-CMV antibody titers as a stratifying criterion to examine the impact of “intensity” of hCMV infection as a potential biomarker of aging, inflammation, and immune homeostasis in a cohort of 247 participants stratified into younger (21–40 years) and older (> 65 years of age) groups. We showed that anti-CMV antibody titers increased with age and directly correlated to increased levels of soluble tumor necrosis factor (sTNFR) I in younger but not older participants. CD8 + cell numbers were reduced in the older group due to the loss in CD8 + T naïve (Tn) cells. In CMV carriers and, in particular, in anti-CMV Ab-high participants, this loss was mitigated or reversed by an increase in the numbers of CD8 + T effector memory (Tem) and T effector memory reexpressing CD45RA (Temra) cells. Analysis of CD38, HLA-DR, and CD57 expression revealed subset (CD4 or CD8)-specific changes that correlated with anti-CMV Ab levels. In addition, anti-CMV Ab levels predicted anti-CMV CD8 T cell responsiveness to different CMV open reading frames (ORFs) selectively in older participants, which correlated to the transcriptional order of expression of specific CMV ORFs. Implications of these results for the potential predictive value of anti-CMV Ab titers during aging are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • CMV
  • Immune aging
  • Immune profiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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