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Mol Med. 1999 May;5(5):261-84.

BHV-1: new molecular approaches to control a common and widespread infection.

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Institute of Veterinary Microbiology and Immunology, University of Milan, Italy.



Herpesviruses are widespread viruses, causing severe infections in both humans and animals. Eradication of herpesviruses is extremely difficult because of their ability to establish latent and life-long infections. However, latency is only one tool that has evolved in herpesviruses to successfully infect their hosts; such viruses display a wide (and still incompletely known) panoply of genes and proteins that are able to counteract immune responses of their hosts. Envelope glycoproteins and cytokine inhibitors are two examples of such weapons. All of these factors make it difficult to develop diagnostics and vaccines, unless they are based on molecular techniques.


Animal herpesviruses, because of their striking similarity to human ones, are suitable models to study the molecular biology of herpesviruses and develop strategies aimed at designing neurotropic live vectors for gene therapy as well as engineered attenuated vaccines.


BHV-1 is a neurotropic herpesvirus causing infectious rhinotracheitis (IBR) in cattle. It is a major plague in zootechnics and commercial trade, because of its ability to spread through asymptomatic carrier animals, frozen semen, and embryos. Such portals of infections are also important for human herpesviruses, which mainly cause systemic, eye, and genital tract infections, leading even to the development of cancer.


This review covers both the genetics and molecular biology of BHV-1 and its related herpesviruses. Epidemiology and diagnostic approaches to herpesvirus infections are presented. The role of herpesviruses in gene therapy and a broad introduction to classic and engineered vaccines against herpesviruses are also provided. http://link.springer-ny. com/link/service/journals/00020/bibs/5n5p261.html

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