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Early-Life Stress Linked with Cytomegalovirus in MDD

JAMA Psychiatry; ePub 2019 Mar 6; Ford, et al

Individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) who experienced more early-life stress were more likely to test positive for cytomegalovirus (CMV), and this finding was replicated in a confirmation sample despite substantially different inclusion and exclusion criteria. This study tested the hypothesis that early-life stress is a risk factor for CMV infection using a discovery sample of 179 volunteers who were diagnosed with MDD based on the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV, and a replication sample of 295 volunteers who met DSM-V criteria for MDD per the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Researchers found:

  • Among the 474 total participants, 172 (36.3%) had remitted MDD; 152 (32.1%) were taking medication for MDD; and 249 (52.5%) were CMV positive.
  • Logistic regression models controlling for age, sex, and ethnicity revealed that individuals with more early-life stress had increased odds of testing positive for CMV in both the discovery (odds ratio [OR], 1.02) and replication (OR, 1.02) samples.
  • Participants who affirmed more physical and sexual abuse were more likely to test positive for CMV in both discovery and replication samples.

Ford BA, Yolken RH, Aupperle RL, et al. Association of early-life stress with cytomegalovirus infection in adults with major depressive disorder. [Published online ahead of print March 6, 2019]. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.4543.