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Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2012 Feb;25(1):92-9. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e32834e9a56.

Herpes simplex virus-2 in the genital mucosa: insights into the mucosal host response and vaccine development.

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Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Centre for Gene Therapeutics and Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



Herpes simplex virus (HSV)-2 is the predominant cause of genital herpes and has been implicated in HIV infection and transmission. Thus far, vaccines developed against HSV-2 have been clinically ineffective in preventing infection. This review aims to summarize the innate and adaptive immune responses against HSV-2 and examines the current status of vaccine development.


Both innate and adaptive immune responses are essential for an effective primary immune response and the generation of immunity. The innate response involves Toll-like receptors, natural killer cells, plasmacytoid dendritic cells, and type I, II, and III interferons. The adaptive response requires a balance between CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells for optimal viral clearance. T-regulatory cells may be involved, although their exact function has yet to be determined. Current vaccine development involves the use of HSV-2 peptides or attenuated/replication-defective HSV-2 to generate adaptive anti-HSV-2 immune responses, however the generation of innate responses may also be an important consideration.


Although vaccine development has primarily focused on the adaptive response, arguments for innate involvement are emerging. A greater understanding of the innate and adaptive processes underlying the response to HSV-2 infection will provide the foundation for the development of an effective vaccine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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