Mitochondrial Haplogroups as a Risk Factor for Herpes Zoster

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Background.  Herpes zoster, or shingles, is a common, painful reactivation of latent varicella zoster virus infection. Understanding host factors that predispose to herpes zoster may permit development of more effective prevention strategies. Our objective was to examine mitochondrial haplogroups as a potential host factor related to herpes zoster incidence.

Methods.  Study participants were drawn from BioVU, a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) biobank connected to deidentified electronic medical records (EMRs) from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Our study used 9691 Caucasian individuals with herpes zoster status determined by International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes 053–053.9. Cases and controls were matched on sex and date of birth within 5 years. Mitochondrial haplogroups were defined from mitochondrial DNA variants genotyped on the Illumina 660W or Illumina Infinium Human-Exome Beadchip. Sex and date of birth were extracted from the EMR.

Results.  European mitochondrial haplogroup H had a protective association with herpes zoster status (odds ratio [OR] = .82; 95% confidence interval [CI], .71–.94; P = .005), whereas haplogroup clade IWX was a risk factor for herpes zoster status (OR = 1.38; 95% CI, 1.07–1.77; P = .01).

Conclusions.  Mitochondrial haplogroup influences herpes zoster risk. Knowledge of a patient's mitochondrial haplogroup could allow for a precision approach to the management of herpes zoster risk through vaccination strategies and management of other modifiable risk factors.

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