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J Virol. 2012 Jul;86(14):7544-53. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00186-12. Epub 2012 May 2.

Glycoprotein G of herpes simplex virus 2 as a novel vaccine antigen for immunity to genital and neurological disease.

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  • 1Department of Virology, Institute of Biomedicine, the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.


The envelope glycoproteins of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and HSV-2, with the exception of glycoprotein G, elicit cross-reactive B- and T-cell responses. Human vaccine trials, using the cross-reactive glycoproteins B and D, have shown no protection against genital HSV-2 infection or disease. In this study, the mature form of glycoprotein G (mgG-2) of HSV-2 was used for immunization of mice, either alone or in combination with adjuvant CpG, followed by an intravaginal challenge with a lethal dose of a fully virulent HSV-2 strain. Mice immunized with mgG-2 plus CpG showed low disease scores and a significantly higher survival rate (73%) than mice immunized with mgG-2 alone (20%) or controls (0%). Accordingly, limited numbers of infectious HSV-2 particles were detected in the spinal cord of mice immunized with mgG-2 plus CpG. The observed protection was associated with a gamma interferon (IFN-γ) response by splenic CD4(+) T cells upon antigen restimulation in vitro and in vaginal washes 1 day postinfection. The majority of sera collected from mice immunized with mgG-2 plus CpG showed macrophage-mediated antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and antibody-dependent complement-mediated cytolysis, while no neutralization activity was observed. In conclusion, we have shown that immunization with the type-specific mgG-2 protein in combination with CpG could elicit protective immunity against an otherwise lethal vaginal HSV-2 challenge. The mgG-2 protein may therefore constitute a promising HSV-2 vaccine antigen to be considered for future human trials.

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