Herpesviruses and their genetic diversity in the blood virome of healthy individuals: effect of aging

Tutkimustuotos: ArtikkeliScientificvertaisarvioitu


Background: As we age, the functioning of the human immune system declines. The results of this are increases in morbidity and mortality associated with infectious diseases, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disease in elderly individuals, as well as a weakened vaccination response. The aging of the immune system is thought to affect and be affected by the human virome, the collection of all viruses present in an individual. Persistent viral infections, such as those caused by certain herpesviruses, can be present in an individual for long periods of time without any overt pathology, yet are associated with disease in states of compromised immune function. To better understand the effects on human health of such persistent viral infections, we must first understand how the human virome changes with age. We have now analyzed the composition of the whole blood virome of 317 individuals, 21–70 years old, using a metatranscriptomic approach. Use of RNA sequencing data allows for the unbiased detection of RNA viruses and active DNA viruses. Results: The data obtained showed that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) was the most frequently expressed virus, with other detected viruses being herpes simplex virus 1, human cytomegalovirus, torque teno viruses, and papillomaviruses. Of the 317 studied blood samples, 68 (21%) had EBV expression, whereas the other detected viruses were only detected in at most 6 samples (2%). We therefore focused on EBV in our further analyses. Frequency of EBV detection, relative EBV RNA abundance and the genetic diversity of EBV was not significantly different between age groups (21–59 and 60–70 years old). No significant correlation was seen between EBV RNA abundance and age. Deconvolution analysis revealed a significant difference in proportions of activated dendritic cells, macrophages M1, and activated mast cells between EBV expression positive and negative individuals. Conclusions: As it is likely that the EBV RNA quantified in this work is derived from reactivation of the latent EBV virus, these data suggest that age does not affect the rate of reactivation nor the genetic landscape of EBV. These findings offer new insight on the genetic diversity of a persistent EBV infection in the long-term.

JulkaisuImmunity and Ageing
DOI - pysyväislinkit
TilaJulkaistu - maalisk. 2022
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä


  • Jufo-taso 1

!!ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Ageing


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