Cytomegalovirus persistence and T-cell immunosenescence in people aged fifty and older: A systematic review

Marlies Weltevrede, Renske Eilers, Hester E de Melker, Debbie van Baarle

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Immunosenescence is the age-related deterioration of immunocompetence which is reflected in a poorer response to new antigens. This process is characterized by decreases in naïve T cells and increases in memory T cells. The highly prevalent β-herpesvirus cytomegalovirus (CMV) is thought to enhance T-cell immunosenescence. The aim of this study was to perform a systematic review on the current evidence regarding the relation between CMV-infection and immunosenescence in Western people aged fifty years and older.

METHODS: Studies that investigated the relation between CMV infection and immune parameters in Western people aged 50 years and older were eligible for inclusion. No restrictions were placed on study type. This article focuses on the relation between CMV infections as measured by serology and T cell subsets. A narrative approach to data synthesis was applied.

RESULTS: In the majority of included studies higher levels of Effector Memory (EM) and TEMRA (Effector Memory T cells re-expressing CD45RA) cells were found in the CD4+ and the CD8+ T cell pools in CMV-seropositive elderly compared to CMV-seronegative elderly. No clear evidence was found for lower levels of naïve T cells in CMV-seropositive elderly compared to CMV-seronegative elderly. The total CD8+ T cell pool appeared to be larger in CMV-seropositive elderly in three out of four studies, while the total CD4+ T cell pool appeared to be smaller in CMV-seropositive elderly in two out of four studies.

DISCUSSION: CMV seems to enhance immunosenescence based on the high levels of the highly differentiated EM and TEMRA cells in the CD8+ and CD4+ T cell pools. The relation of the shifts within the T cell compartments in CMV-seropositive elderly in relation to susceptibility to infectious diseases remains to be investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-95
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Gerontology
Publication statusPublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • aged
  • cytomegalovirus/immunology
  • cytomegalovirus infections/immunology
  • humans
  • immunologic memory
  • immunosenescence
  • middle aged
  • T-lymphocytes/physiology


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