Population-Wide Associations between Common Viral Pathogens and Self-Reported Arthritis: NHANES 2009-2012

Anna K Shmagel, Grace Skemp-Dymond, Lisa Langsetmo, John T. Schousboe, Kristine E Ensrud, Rob Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective. Persistent infectious agents have been implicated in chronic and recurrent inflammation, which may trigger or worsen many types of arthritis. Our objective was to determine whether exposure to herpes simplex virus (HSV) and human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with self-reported arthritis among US adults. Methods. We used data from two consecutive cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2009 until 2012 (N of examined adults ages 20-69 = 9483). Participants were classified as having arthritis by self-report. Viral serology for HSV-1 and HSV-2 and HPV PCR studies from oral rinse and vaginal swabs were available for analysis. We compared HSV-1 and HSV-2 seropositivity as well as oral and vaginal HPV DNA positivity between participants with self-reported arthritis vs. those without, adjusting for age, gender, race, income, education, BMI, and the use of immunosuppressive medications. We used three comparator outcomes, gout, kidney stones, and hypertension, to evaluate whether the associations were specific or not to arthritis. Results. Arthritis was associated with older age, female gender, non-Hispanic White and Non-Hispanic Black race, higher BMI, and lower socioeconomic status. HSV-2 seropositivity, but not HSV-1 seropositivity, was independently associated with arthritis after adjustment for age, gender, race, income, education, BMI, and the use of immunosuppressive medications: AOR 1.48 (1.10-1.99). Oral HPV DNA positivity was also independently associated with arthritis: AOR 1.63 (1.17-2.28). After adjustment, there was no statistically significant difference in vaginal HPV DNA positivity between those with vs. those without arthritis: AOR 1.22 (0.90-1.66). There were no significant associations between viral exposures and any of the comparator outcomes. Conclusions. HSV-2 seropositivity and oral HPV DNA positivity were associated with self-reported arthritis and not with comparator outcomes, after adjustment for multiple potential confounders. These findings should be confirmed in longitudinal studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7684942
JournalInternational Journal of Rheumatology
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Anna Shmagel was funded by a National Institutes of Health T32 grant for this research, [Award no. 5T32DK007784-15]. Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health Award [Grant no. UL1TR000114].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Anna Shmagel et al.


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