Early childhood stress is associated with elevated herpes antibodies

Reading in the area of early childhood stress brought me to this article from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science:

It is well known that children need solicitous parenting and a nurturing rearing environment to ensure their normal behavioral development. Early adversity often negatively impacts emotional and mental well-being, but it is less clearly established how much the maturation and regulation of physiological systems is also compromised. The following research investigated the effect of 2 different types of adverse childhood experiences, early deprivation through institutionalization and physical abuse, on a previously unexplored outcome: the containment of herpes simplex virus (HSV). The presence of HSV-specific antibody in salivary specimens was determined in 155 adolescents, including 41 postinstitutionalized, 34 physically-abused, and 80 demographically-similar control youth. Across 4 school and home days, HSV antibody was higher in both postinstitutionalized and physically-abused adolescents when compared with control participants. Because the prevalence of HSV infection was similar across the groups, the elevated antibody was likely indicative of viral recrudescence from latency. Total secretory Ig-A secretion was associated with HSV, but did not account for the group differences in HSV-specific antibody. These findings are likely caused by a failure of cellular immune processes to limit viral reactivation, indicating a persistent effect of early rearing on immune functioning. The fact that antibody profiles were still altered years after adoption into a more benevolent setting with supportive families suggests these results were not caused by contemporaneous factors, but rather reflect a lingering influence of earlier life experiences.

Here we have an indication that early stressors leave a mark so to speak on immune functioning. Those promoting the pathogen theory of sexual orientation might wonder if this finding provides any support. Not sure, but I doubt it, in light of the recent finding that physical abuse and neglect do not relate to adult sexual orientation. For men, but not women, sexual abuse did associate with adult sexual orientation. Abuse compromises the immune system with durable consequences. Physically abused and neglected children have compromised immune systems but are not more likely to report homosexual behavior. Seems like this would be a group more likely to demonstrate homosexuality since anything attacked by the immune system would have an easier time of it.