Immunobiology of Herpes Simplex Virus and Cytomegalovirus Infections of the Fetus and Newborn

Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Current Immunology Reviews 02/2010; 6(1):38-55. DOI: 10.2174/157339510790231833
Source: PubMed


Immunologic "immaturity" is often blamed for the increased susceptibility of newborn humans to infection, but the precise mechanisms and details of immunologic development remain somewhat obscure. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) are two of the more common severe infectious agents of the fetal and newborn periods. HSV infection in the newborn most commonly occurs after exposure to the virus during delivery, and can lead to a spectrum of clinical disease ranging from isolated skin-eye-mucous membrane infection to severe disseminated multiorgan disease, often including encephalitis. In contrast to HSV, clinically severe CMV infections early in life are usually acquired during the intrauterine period. These infections can result in a range of clinical disease, including hearing loss and neurodevelopmental delay. However, term newborns infected with CMV after delivery are generally asymptomatic, and older children and adults often acquire infection with HSV or CMV with either no or mild clinical symptoms. The reasons for these widely variable clinical presentations are not completely understood, but likely relate to developmental differences in immune responses.This review summarizes recent human and animal studies of the immunologic response of the fetus and newborn to these two infections, in comparison to the responses of older children and adults. The immunologic defense of the newborn against each virus is considered under the broader categories of (i) the placental barrier to infection, (ii) skin and mucosal barriers (including antimicrobial peptides), (iii) innate responses, (iv) humoral responses, and (v) cellular responses. A specific focus is made on recent studies of innate and cellular immunity to HSV and CMV.

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    • "These uNK cells may compensate for their relative lack of cytotoxic potential by elaboration of antiviral cytokines, particularly interferon gamma, in the uterine microenvironment [42]. It has been reasonably speculated that the lack of an effector phenotype for the uNK cells may contribute to an increased risk of intrauterine CMV transmission [43]. However, it has also been noted that freshly isolated uNK cells can acquire major functional and phenotypic changes and can become cytotoxic effectors following exposure to CMV-infected autologous decidual fibroblasts. "
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    ABSTRACT: Fetal and neonatal infections caused by human cytomegalovirus (CMV) are important causes of morbidity and occasional mortality. Development of a vaccine against congenital CMV infection is a major public health priority. Vaccine design is currently focused on strategies that aim to elicit neutralizing antibody and T-cell responses, toward the goal of preventing primary or recurrent infection in women of child-bearing age. However, there has been relatively little attention given to understanding the mechanisms of immune protection against acquisition of CMV infection in the fetus and newborn and how this information might be exploited for vaccine design. There has similarly been an insufficient study of what deficits in the immune response to CMV, both for mother and fetus, may increase susceptibility to congenital infection and disease. Protection of the fetus against vertical transmission can likely be achieved by protection of the placenta, which has its own unique immunological milieu, further complicating the analysis of the correlates of protective immunity. In this review, the current state of knowledge about immune effectors of protection against CMV in the maternal, placental, and fetal compartments is reviewed. A better understanding of immune responses that prevent and/or predispose to infection will help in the development of novel vaccine strategies.
    Clinical and Developmental Immunology 08/2013; 2013(1):501801. DOI:10.1155/2013/501801 · 2.93 Impact Factor
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    • "Although it is highly morbid, in utero HSV infection accounts for <5% of all neonatal cases, or approximately 1 per 250,000 deliveries [80, 81]. It is unclear why fetal infection occurs so infrequently, for example, compared to cytomegalovirus, but multiple factors may be involved [82]. First, detection of HSV DNA in peripheral blood, though relatively common during primary infection, is rare during established disease, even with clinical reactivations [83]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Herpes simplex viruses types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) infect a large proportion of the world's population. Infection is life-long and can cause periodic mucocutaneous symptoms, but it only rarely causes life-threatening disease among immunocompetent children and adults. However, when HSV infection occurs during the neonatal period, viral replication is poorly controlled and a large proportion of infants die or develop disability even with optimal antiviral therapy. Increasingly, specific differences are being elucidated between the immune system of newborns and those of older children and adults, which predispose to severe infections and reflect the transition from fetal to postnatal life. Studies in healthy individuals of different ages, individuals with primary or acquired immunodeficiencies, and animal models have contributed to our understanding of the mechanisms that control HSV infection and how these may be impaired during the neonatal period. This paper outlines our current understanding of innate and adaptive immunity to HSV infection, immunologic differences in early infancy that may account for the manifestations of neonatal HSV infection, and the potential of interventions to augment neonatal immune protection against HSV disease.
    Clinical and Developmental Immunology 03/2013; 2013(12):369172. DOI:10.1155/2013/369172 · 2.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alphaherpesviruses are widespread in the human population, and include herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and 2, and varicella zoster virus (VZV). These viral pathogens cause epithelial lesions, and then infect the nervous system to cause lifelong latency, reactivation, and spread. A related veterinary herpesvirus, pseudorabies (PRV), causes similar disease in livestock that result in significant economic losses. Vaccines developed for VZV and PRV serve as useful models for the development of an HSV-1 vaccine. We present full genome sequence comparisons of the PRV vaccine strain Bartha, and two virulent PRV isolates, Kaplan and Becker. These genome sequences were determined by high-throughput sequencing and assembly, and present new insights into the attenuation of a mammalian alphaherpesvirus vaccine strain. We find many previously unknown coding differences between PRV Bartha and the virulent strains, including changes to the fusion proteins gH and gB, and over forty other viral proteins. Inter-strain variation in PRV protein sequences is much closer to levels previously observed for HSV-1 than for the highly stable VZV proteome. Almost 20% of the PRV genome contains tandem short sequence repeats (SSRs), a class of nucleic acids motifs whose length-variation has been associated with changes in DNA binding site efficiency, transcriptional regulation, and protein interactions. We find SSRs throughout the herpesvirus family, and provide the first global characterization of SSRs in viruses, both within and between strains. We find SSR length variation between different isolates of PRV and HSV-1, which may provide a new mechanism for phenotypic variation between strains. Finally, we detected a small number of polymorphic bases within each plaque-purified PRV strain, and we characterize the effect of passage and plaque-purification on these polymorphisms. These data add to growing evidence that even plaque-purified stocks of stable DNA viruses exhibit limited sequence heterogeneity, which likely seeds future strain evolution.
    PLoS Pathogens 10/2011; 7(10):e1002282. DOI:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002282 · 7.56 Impact Factor
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