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J Virol. 2012 Sep;86(18):9952-63. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00829-12. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

Peripheral blood CD4 T-cell and plasmacytoid dendritic cell (pDC) reactivity to herpes simplex virus 2 and pDC number do not correlate with the clinical or virologic severity of recurrent genital herpes.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.


Leukocytes participate in the immune control of herpes simplex virus (HSV). Data from HIV coinfections, germ line mutations, and case reports suggest involvement of CD4 T cells and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC). We investigated the relationships between these cells and recurrent genital herpes disease severity in the general population. Circulating CD4 T-cell responses to HSV-2 were measured in specimens from 67 immunocompetent individuals with measured genital lesion and HSV shedding rates. Similarly, pDC number and functional responses to HSV-2 were analyzed in 40 persons. CD4 responses and pDC concentrations and responses ranged as much as 100-fold between persons while displaying moderate within-person consistency over time. No correlations were observed between these immune response parameters and genital HSV-2 severity. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) coinfection was not correlated with differences in HSV-2-specific CD4 T-cell responses. The CD4 T-cell response to HSV-2 was much more polyfunctional than was the response to CMV. These data suggest that other immune cell subsets with alternate phenotypes or anatomical locations may be responsible for genital herpes control in chronically infected individuals.

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