Association of Depressed Mood with Herpes Simplex Virus-2 Immunoglobulin-G Levels in Pregnancy

Pao Chu Hsu, Robert H. Yolken, Teodor T. Postolache, Theresa M. Beckie, Cindy L. Munro, Maureen W. Groer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Depressed mood is common in pregnancy, is associated with stress, and could result in immune suppression that may lead to latent herpes viral reactivation. This study investigated whether depressed mood is associated with higher herpes viral IgG levels in pregnant women. Methods: Complete cross-sectional data from 247 pregnant women were available for this substudy. The data included demographics, scores on the Perceived Stress Scale and Profile of Mood States (POMS), and a panel of serum IgG levels for human herpesviruses. Results: Only the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) (genital herpes) IgG level was associated with Perceived Stress Scale and POMS - Depression/Dejection (POMS-D) score. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used to examine the association of POMS-D with herpesviral IgG levels adjusting for demographic variables. In the final model, African American race (β = .251, p < .001), older age (β = .199, p = .002), single marital status (β = -.304, p < .001), and depressed mood (β = .122, p = .04) were associated with HSV-2 IgG levels. In logistic regression, the strongest correlates of HSV IgG positivity were single marital status, followed by POMS-D scores and African American race. Conclusion: Genital herpes is a concern in pregnancy. Antibody titers may indicate asymptomatic viral shedding, viral reactivation, or primary viral infection. Antibody levels may be higher because of the immune changes during pregnancy and potential immune effects of depressed mood causing reactivation of latent HSV-2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)966-972
Number of pages7
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • African American
  • HSV-2
  • POMS-D
  • PSS
  • depressed mood
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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