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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Apr;101(4):1680-5. doi: 10.1210/jc.2015-4208. Epub 2016 Feb 10.

Obesity, Metabolic Health, and History of Cytomegalovirus Infection in the General Population.

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School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences (M.H.), Loughborough University; Loughborough LE11 3TU, United Kingdom; and Department of Epidemiology & Public Health (M.H., G.D.B., M.K.), University College London WC1E 6BT, London, United Kingdom.



Common community-acquired infections such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), may contribute to the development of obesity and metabolic dysfunction, but empirical evidence is scarce.


We examined the associations between CMV, obesity, and metabolic characteristics in a large, general population–based sample of adults.


This was an observational study in community dwelling adults from the general population, Understanding Society–the UK Household Longitudinal Study composed on 9517 men and women (age 52.4 ± 16.4 y; 55.3% female).


CMV infection was measured IgG from serum. Obesity was defined as body mass index ≥30 kg/m2. Based on blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, glycated hemoglobin A1c, and C-reactive protein, participants were classified as either Healthy (0 or 1 metabolic abnormality) or Unhealthy (≥2 metabolic abnormalities).


A positive CMV test was recorded in 47.5% of the sample. There was no association between CMV and obesity. Of the individual metabolic risk factors, CMV was positively associated with glycated hemoglobin and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. In combination, only Unhealthy Nonobese participants had modestly increased odds of CMV (odds ratio compared with healthy normal-weight, 1.12; 95% confidence interval, 1.00–1.26) after adjusting for a range of variables. CMV was associated with an increased prevalence of cardiovascular diseases (odds ratio, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.07–2.60) independently of obesity, metabolic risk factors, and other covariates.


Our findings suggest a weak but statistically significant association between CMV and metabolic dysfunction in nonobese adults. This relationship seems to be masked in the obese, possibly by the effects of excess adiposity on metabolism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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