The study, conducted at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, included over 700 female participants aged 70 to 79 years. It is unique because it links an infection acquired earlier in life with functional consequences in old age. Further data showed that women who had both the viral infection and high levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) were even more likely to be frail than those who had either alone.

"It is not clear why, with age, some people become frail, but frailty has been linked to inflammation," said Heidi N. Schmaltz, MDCM, lead author of the study. "Patients who are frail are more likely to be hospitalized, fall, develop disability, and die than their peers. Thus, it is critical to understand what causes people to become frail and what potential treatments could decrease risk of poor outcomes in those who are frail, particularly with the aging population."

While CMV is a common lifelong infection, it usually does not cause symptoms in healthy adults. Currently, CMV infections are not initially asked about in clinical practice. Researchers suggest that more funding for research into the development of frailty and disability is essential as the population ages.

MEDICA.de; Source: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.