The influence of Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus on childhood respiratory health: A population-based prospective cohort study

Evelien R. van Meel, Vincent W.V. Jaddoe, Irwin K.M. Reiss, Menno C. van Zelm, Johan C. de Jongste, Henriëtte A. Moll, Liesbeth Duijts

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection are common in early childhood. CMV infection favours a T-helper-1 and EBV infection a T-helper-2 cell response, possibly leading to disbalanced T-helper cell response, and subsequent risk of asthma or atopy. Objective: To study the associations of EBV and CMV with lung function, asthma and inhalant allergic sensitization at school age. Methods: This study among 3546 children was embedded in a population-based prospective cohort. At age 6 years, serum IgG levels against EBV and CMV were measured by ELISA. At age 10 years, lung function was measured by spirometry, asthma by questionnaire and inhalant allergic sensitization by skin prick test. Results: Unadjusted models showed that seropositivity for EBV was associated with a higher FEV1 and FEF75 (Z-score difference (95% CI): 0.09 (0.02, 0.16) and 0.09 (0.02, 0.15)), while seropositivity for CMV was not. Specific combinations of viruses showed that seropositivity for EBV was only associated with FEV1 and FEF75 in the presence of seropositivity for CMV (0.12 (0.04, 0.20)) and 0.08 (0.01, 0.15)). Seropositivity for CMV in the absence of seropositivity for EBV was associated with an increased risk of inhalant allergic sensitization (OR (95% CI): 1.31 (1.02, 1.68)). All effect estimates attenuated into non-significant mainly after adjustment for child's ethnicity. Seropositivity for EBV or CMV was not associated with asthma. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Associations of EBV and CMV infections in early childhood with school-age lung function and inhalant allergic sensitization are explained by ethnicity, or sociodemographic and lifestyle-related factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-507
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • asthma
  • child
  • epidemiology
  • herpesviridae
  • respiratory function test

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