Environmental factors, such as plants and soil, may influence Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) replication or immune responses. However, the relationship of such exposures to KSHV seroprevalence has not been established.
In 1154 randomly sampled adults (aged 32–92) throughout Sicily, KSHV antibodies were detected with four assays and a conservative algorithm. Seroprevalence was re-weighted to the population. Logistic regression was used to estimate associations of seroprevalence with interview data, including contact with 20 specific plants.
KSHV seroprevalence was 8.5%, including 5.3% among men and 11.5% among women (P=0.22). In multivariate models, seroprevalence was consistently higher with residence in a smaller community during childhood (Ptrend≤0.03) and working with plants/soil during adulthood (odds ratio≥2.73). In such models, seroprevalence was higher with exposure to one plant (Hieracium, odds ratio≥2.8), but it was lower with three others (Acanthus mollis, Taraxacum officinalis, and Trigonella foenum-graecum) and with cumulative exposure to all 20 plants (Ptrend=0.03). Other demographic, household, and water contact variables were unrelated to seroprevalence.
KSHV seroprevalence appears to be increased by contact with soil and to vary with certain plants. Corroboration and investigation of possible effects of soil and plant constituents on KSHV regulation and immune responses are needed.