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Clin Microbiol Rev. 2003 Jan;16(1):96-113.

Recent progress in herpes simplex virus immunobiology and vaccine research.

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Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.


Herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) cause prevalent, chronic infections that have serious outcomes in some individuals. Neonatal herpes may occur when the infant traverses the cervix during maternal genital herpes. Genital herpes is a major risk factor for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transmission. Considerable efforts have been made to design and test vaccines for HSV, focusing on genital infection with HSV-2. Several protein subunit vaccines based on HSV-2 envelope glycoproteins have reached advanced-phase clinical trials. These antigens were chosen because they are the targets of neutralizing-antibody responses and because they elicit cellular immunity. Encouraging results have been reported in studies of treatment of HSV-seronegative women with a vaccine consisting of truncated glycoprotein D of HSV-2 and a novel adjuvant. Because most sexual HSV transmission occurs during asymptomatic shedding, it is important to evaluate the impact of vaccination on HSV-2 infection, clinically apparent genital herpes, and HSV shedding among vaccine recipients who acquire infection. There are several other attractive formats, including subunit vaccines that target cellular immune responses, live attenuated virus strains, and mutant strains that undergo incomplete lytic replication. HSV vaccines have also been evaluated for the immunotherapy of established HSV infection.

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