Early-life stress is a well-established risk factor in the development of psychiatric disorders. Although the biological processes behind this association are unclear, there is evidence to suggest that early-life stress may lead to immune dysregulation.1 One possibility is that early-life stress may impair adaptive immunity and, therefore, increase vulnerability to initial infection and subsequent reactivation of herpesviruses. Herpesviruses are potential immune-modifying agents that persist as latent infections and can reactivate during periods of stress. Initially believed to be benign except in cases of immunosuppression, cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection has been found to be associated with a range of negative outcomes, including depression, immunosenescence, neurodegenerative disorders, and reduced lifespan.2
Ford BN, Yolken RH, Aupperle RL, et al. Association of Early-Life Stress With Cytomegalovirus Infection in Adults With Major Depressive Disorder. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online March 06, 201976(5):545–547. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.4543
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