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Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2017 Dec 2;13(12):2785-2793. doi: 10.1080/21645515.2017.1323604. Epub 2017 May 8.

A trivalent subunit antigen glycoprotein vaccine as immunotherapy for genital herpes in the guinea pig genital infection model.

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a Infectious Disease Division, Department of Medicine , Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania , Philadelphia , PA , USA.


An estimated 417 million people worldwide ages 15 to 49 are infected with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), the most common cause of genital ulcer disease. Some individuals experience frequent recurrences of genital lesions, while others only have subclinical infection, yet all risk transmitting infection to their intimate partners. A vaccine was developed that prevents shingles, which is a recurrent infection caused by varicella-zoster virus (VZV), a closely related member of the Herpesviridae family. The success of the VZV vaccine has stimulated renewed interest in a therapeutic vaccine for genital herpes. We have been evaluating a trivalent subunit antigen vaccine for prevention of genital herpes. Here, we assess the trivalent vaccine as immunotherapy in guinea pigs that were previously infected intravaginally with HSV-2. The trivalent vaccine contains HSV-2 glycoproteins C, D, and E (gC2, gD2, gE2) subunit antigens administered with CpG and alum as adjuvants. We previously demonstrated that antibodies to gD2 neutralize the virus while antibodies to gC2 and gE2 block their immune evasion activities, including evading complement attack and inhibiting activities mediated by the IgG Fc domain, respectively. Here, we demonstrate that the trivalent vaccine significantly boosts ELISA titers and neutralizing antibody titers. The trivalent vaccine reduces the frequency of recurrent genital lesions and vaginal shedding of HSV-2 DNA by approximately 50% and almost totally eliminates vaginal shedding of replication-competent virus, suggesting that the trivalent vaccine is a worthy candidate for immunotherapy of genital herpes.


Genital herpes; HSV-2; antibody; complement; glycoprotein C; glycoprotein D; glycoprotein E; guinea pigs; immune evasion; therapeutic vaccine

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