Cytomegalovirus and Toxoplasma Gondii Serostatus Prospectively Correlated With Problems in Self-Regulation but not Executive Function Among Older Adults

Suzanne C. Segerstrom, Rebecca G. Reed, Justin E. Karr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Toxoplasma gondii are organisms that may infect the brain and have cognitive and behavioral consequences. We hypothesized that these latent infections would be prospectively associated with poorer cognition and more problems in self-regulation among older adults. Methods Older adults (n = 138, mean age = 75.5 years, 59% women) had CMV and T. gondii serostatus tested, crystallized intelligence estimated (North American Adult Reading Test), and executive function (EF; e.g., Trail Making Test) and self-regulation (Behavior Regulation Inventory of Executive Function-Adult) assessed in visits occurring every 6 months (mean visits = 16). Results CMV+ people (79%) had significantly poorer self-regulation versus CMV-people (21%; behavioral regulation: γ = 0.108, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.009-0.206; metacognition: γ = 0.117, 95% CI = 0.005-0.229), but not intelligence or EF. T. gondii+ people (24%) were not significantly different from T. gondii-people (76%) on any outcome. However, T. gondii+ men had better self-regulation versus T. gondii-men, and the opposite was true of women (behavioral regulation interaction: γ = 0.267, 95% CI = 0.093-0.441). Conclusions CMV latent infection was associated with more problems in self-regulation, and the magnitude of this difference was clinically significant. T. gondii latent infection was associated with more problems, but only for women. Latent infection might associate with self-regulation but not EF because of factors influencing self-regulation but not neuropsychological test performance, such as values and emotion. Efforts to link latent infection with EFs might, in the future, include the application of those functions to self-regulation in daily life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-611
Number of pages9
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Source of Funding and Conflicts of Interest: The study’s conceptualization and design were performed by S.C.S. Data collection and analysis were performed by S.C.S. and R.G.R. The manuscript was written by all authors, and all authors read and approved the final manuscript. The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. The authors declare no conflicts of interest. The research was funded by the National Institute on Aging (R01-AG026307 and K99/R00-AG056635). This article was reviewed and accepted under the editorship of Willem Kop, PhD.

Publisher Copyright:
© Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


  • Aging
  • Cognition
  • Infection
  • Latent virus
  • Self-regulation
  • Toxoplasmosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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