UK Biobank study finds no link between CMV and cardiovascular disease: HIV not included

Simon Collins, HIV i-Base

An analysis from the large national UK biobank has reported no association between CMV infection and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The analysis included 8,531 participants from the UK Biobank study, recruited from 2006 to 2010. It included 626 cases of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 529 cases of stroke over a mean follow-up time of 10.2 years.

In adjusted analyses, the hazard ratio for CVD by CMV status was 1.01 (95% CI: 0.86 to 1.20) and for stroke was 0.96 (95% CI: 0.68 to 1.36).

This was a largely white population and the study also recommended “further research within understudied populations, such as those of non-white ethnicity”.

These results are important because of the concern that the immune activation linked to CMV might have serious long term consequences.

The results are important because CMV is more common in HIV positive people and is especially high in gay men. However, HIV and HCV also generate chronic inflammation, so it is important that future analyses also look in these populations,


Although these results are positive, they were not able to adjust for likely duration of CMV infection or CMV viral load.

The study also didn’t study the role of coinfections, including with HIV and HCV, and it was underpowered to detect small changes in CVD risk.

These analyses should be possible given the Biobank includes more than 500,000 participants.


Hamilton EM et al. Human cytomegalovirus and risk of incident cardiovascular disease in UK Biobank. JID, jiab364, doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiab364. (19 July 2021).

This report was first published on 25 July 2021.

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