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J Clin Invest. 1998 Apr 1;101(7):1500-8.

Clearance of HSV-2 from recurrent genital lesions correlates with infiltration of HSV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes.

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


The mechanisms involved in host clearance of symptomatic mucocutaneous herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection are unclear. We studied the functional properties of bulk cultures of skin-infiltrating lymphocytes from normal skin and serial biopsies of recurrent genital HSV-2 lesions, and compared HSV-specific and NK responses with viral clearance. HSV-specific CD4+ or CD8+ T cells were rarely detected in lymphocytes cultured from normal skin. The total lymphocyte count and HSV-specific and NK-like effector cell activities were markedly higher in cultures derived from lesional skin. HSV-specific CD4+ proliferative responses and NK-like cytotoxic responses were present at all stages of herpetic lesions, including biopsies early in the disease course. In contrast, cytotoxic T lymphocyte activity was generally low among cells derived from early culture-positive lesions, and increased during lesion evolution. Viral clearance from the lesion site was associated with a high level of local cytolytic activity towards HSV-infected cells. The phenotypes of cells with HSV-specific cytotoxic responses varied between patients, having CD4+ and CD8+ components. Immunotherapeutic approaches to HSV should be directed at improving in vivo cytolytic activity to HSV.

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