Herpes Simplex Virus Antibody Levels Tied to Incident Frailty And Mortality

HealthDay News – For older women, herpes simplex virus antibody levels are associated with incident frailty and mortality, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

George C. Wang, MD, PhD, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a nested prospective cohort study involving 633 community-dwelling older women aged 70 to 79 years. The authors examined baseline serum antibody levels against herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2), varicella-zoster virus, and Epstein-Barr virus; they also measured 3-year incident frailty and 5-year mortality.

The researchers found that the risk of 3-year incident frailty was increased for women seropositive for HSV-1 (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.90; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.96-3.74) and HSV-2 (HR: 2.10; 95% CI: 1.05-4.37) vs seronegative women; 5-year mortality was also increased for HSV-1 (HR: 1.73; 95% CI: 0.93-3.20) and HSV-2 (HR: 1.80; 95% CI: 0.94-3.44). There was a correlation for incremental increases in HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody levels with increased risks of incident frailty and mortality. Only higher serum HSV-2 antibody levels were independently predictive of higher mortality risk in older women, after adjustment for potential confounders (HR: 1.47; 95% CI: 1.05-2.07).

“HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody levels are associated with unadjusted risks of incident frailty and mortality in community-dwelling older women,” the authors write.


  1. Wang GC, Han C, Detrick B, et al. Herpes virus infections and risk of frailty and mortality in older women: women’s health and aging studies. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016; doi: 10.1111/jgs.14090.