Torquetenovirus (TTV) load is associated with mortality in Italian elderly subjects

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An age-related dysregulation of immune response, known as immunosenescence, contributes to increased susceptibility to infections, frailty and high risk of mortality in the elderly. Torquetenovirus (TTV), a circular, single-stranded DNA virus, is highly prevalent in the general population and it may persist in the organism, also in association with other viruses such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), causing chronic viremia. The relationship that TTV establishes with the immune system of infected hosts is not clear. It is known that TTV encodes microRNAs (miRNAs) that might contribute to immune evasion and that the highest viral loads are found in peripheral blood cells. Moreover, it is suspected that TTV infection lead to increased production of inflammatory mediators, thus playing a role in immunosenescence. We investigated the association of TTV load and miRNAs expression with inflammatory and immune markers and the influence of TTV load on mortality within a cohort of 379 elderly subjects who were followed up for 3years. TTV DNA load in polymorphonuclear leukocytes was slightly positively correlated with age and negatively associated with serum albumin levels and NK cell activity. A marginal positive correlation between TTV DNA load, monocytes and IL-8 plasma levels was found in females and males respectively. TTV DNA copies ≥4.0 log represented a strong predictor of mortality (Hazard ratio=4.78, 95% CI: 1.70–13.44, after adjusting for age, sex and the main predictors of mortality rate) and this association remained significant even after the CMV IgG antibody titer was included in the model (HR=9.83; 95% CI: 2.48–38.97; N=343 subjects). Moreover, multiple linear regression model showed that TTV miRNA-t3b of genogroup 3 was inversely associated with triglycerides, monocytes and C-reactive protein, and directly associated with IL6. Overall these findings suggest a role of TTV in immunesenescence and in the prediction of all-cause mortality risk in Italian elderly subjects. Further studies are needed to fully understand the pathogenic mechanisms of TTV infection during aging.HIGHLIGHTSTTV DNA load in polymorphonuclear leukocytes positively correlated with age.TTV DNA load negatively associated with serum albumin levels and NK cell activity.TTV DNA copies ≥4.0 log associated with three year mortality in elderly people.TTV and its miRNAs may play a role in immunesenescence.

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