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J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc. 2012 Jun;1(2):116-24. doi: 10.1093/jpids/pis009. Epub 2012 May 3.

Longitudinal Characterization of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Isolates Acquired From Different Sites in an Immune-Compromised Child: A New HSV Thymidine Kinase Mutation Associated With Resistance.

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Departments of Microbiology-Immunology.
Pediatrics, and.
Departments of Microbiology-Immunology Pediatrics, and.
Ophthalmology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois.



Herpes simplex virus resistance to acyclovir is well described in immune-compromised patients. Management of prolonged infection and recurrences in such patients may be problematic.


A patient with neuroblastoma developed likely primary herpes gingivostomatitis shortly after starting a course of chemotherapy, with spread to the eye during treatment with acyclovir. Viral isolates were serially obtained from separate sites after treatment was begun and tested for susceptibility to acyclovir and foscarnet by plaque reduction and plating efficiency assays. The thymidine kinase and DNA polymerase genes from each isolate were sequenced.


Initial isolates from a throat swab, an oral lesion, and conjunctiva were resistant to acyclovir within 13 days of treatment. Subsequent isolates while on foscarnet were initially acyclovir-susceptible, but reactivation of an acyclovir-resistant isolate was subsequently documented while on acyclovir suppression. Genotypic analysis identified a previously unreported UL23 mutation in some resistant isolates. None of the amino acid changes identified in UL30 were associated with resistance.


Phenotypic and genotypic antiviral resistance of herpes simplex isolates may vary from different compartments and over time in individual immune-compromised hosts, highlighting the importance of obtaining cultures from all sites. Phenotypic resistance testing should be considered for isolates obtained from at-risk patients not responding to first-line therapy. Empiric combination treatment with multiple antivirals could be considered in some situations.

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