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Brain Behav Immun. 2014 Aug;40:174-81. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2014.03.010. Epub 2014 Mar 25.

Childhood environments and cytomegalovirus serostatus and reactivation in adults.

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Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.
Department of Otolaryngology/ENT, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15224, USA.
Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.
Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.


Childhood adversity, defined in terms of material hardship or physical or emotional maltreatment has been associated with risk for infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV) among children and adolescents, and with CMV reactivation in children and adults. The present study examined whether different dimensions of childhood experience-those pertaining to socioeconomic status (SES), physical environment, or family relationships-relate differentially to CMV serostatus and reactivation during adulthood. Participants were 140 healthy adults, aged 18-55years (41% female; 64% white). Childhood environments were assessed retrospectively and included family SES (parental housing tenure); childhood neighborhood environment (urban residence; physical conditions; safety; and social atmosphere); residential exposures (parental smoking and physical condition of home); and family relationships (parental divorce; warmth; harmony; dysfunction; parental bonding). Approximately 39% (n=53) of participants were CMV+. In individual analyses controlling for age, sex, race, body mass, current adult SES and smoking status, fewer years of parental home ownership, having a parent who smoked, and living in a poorly maintained or unsafe neighborhood each were associated with greater odds of infection with CMV. By comparison, in individual analyses limited to CMV+ participants, less family warmth, less harmony, greater dysfunction, and suboptimal parental bonding each were related to higher antibody levels, independent of the aforementioned covariates. Findings were not attributable to current adult perceptions of psychological stress or relative levels of emotional stability. These results suggest that different types of childhood adversity may be associated with differential effects on CMV infection and latency.


Childhood environments; Cytomegalovirus; Latent virus; Psychological stress; Reactivation

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