Introduction: Non-genetic factors are important but poorly understood determinants of immune profiles. Age and Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection remain two well documented non-genetic determinants of the immune profile. Recently, one study identified cohabitation in the same household as an important determinant of immune profiles. Methods: We used immunophenotyping data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to evaluate the association between cohabitation and the adaptive (subsets of T-cells, B-cells) and innate immune profiles (subsets of monocytes, natural killer cells and neutrophils). We compared adaptive and innate immune cell profiles using immunophenotyping data from 1184 same-household pairs (cohabitating partners) to 1184 non-household pairs to evaluate the association between cohabitation and adaptive immune cell profiles. We used data from 1737 same-household pairs and 1737 non-household pairs to evaluate the association between cohabitation and innate cell profiles. Household and non-household pairs were matched on age (±2years), educational background and race/ethnicity to minimize confounding due to these factors. The adaptive immune cells and innate immune cell profiles were compressed to two coordinates using multidimensional scaling (MDS). The Euclidean distances between same-household pairs were compared to the distances between non-household pairs for the adaptive and innate cell profiles separately using two sample independent t-tests. We also performed additional adjustment for age and BMI differences, CMV serostatus and smoking concordance/discordance status among household members. Results: For adaptive immune cell profiles, the mean Euclidean distance between same-household pairs was 4% lower than the non-household pairs (p = 0.03). When stratified by concordance for CMV serostatus among household pairs, the Euclidean distance was significantly lower by 8% in the same-household pairs as compared to non-household pairs among those who were discordant for CMV serostatus (p = 0.01) and among same-household pairs who were CMV seronegative (p = 0.02) after covariate adjustment. The mean Euclidian distance between same-household pairs was also 8% lower than non-household pairs for the innate immune cell profiles (p-value <0.0001) and this difference remained consistent across all strata of CMV infection. Discussion: This study confirms that cohabitation is associated with similarity in immune cell profiles. The differential effects of cohabitation on the adaptive and innate immune profiles suggest that further studies into the common environmental factors that influence individual immune cell subsets need to be evaluated in greater detail.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging ( R01AG060110 ). The Health and Retirement Study is supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA U01AG009740 ) and the Social Security Administration .
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