Prevention strategies for herpes zoster and post-herpetic neuralgia.

Pediatric Infectious Diseases, University of Colorado Denver, Mail Stop C227, Building 401, 1784 Racine Street, Room R09-108, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.
Journal of clinical virology: the official publication of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology (Impact Factor: 3.47). 05/2010; 48 Suppl 1:S14-9. DOI: 10.1016/S1386-6532(10)70004-4
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Impairment of varicella zoster virus (VZV)-specific cell-mediated immunity, including impairment due to immunosenescence, is associated with an increased risk of developing herpes zoster (HZ), whereas levels of anti-VZV antibodies do not correlate with HZ risk. This crucial role of VZV-specific cell-mediated immunity suggests that boosting these responses by vaccination will be an effective strategy for reducing the burden of HZ. Other strategies focus on preventing the major complication of HZ--post-herpetic neuralgia. These strategies include pre-emptive treatment with drugs such as tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants and analgesics.

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    ABSTRACT: Zostavax (zoster vaccine) is a 1-dose, high-potency, live, attenuated varicella zoster virus (VZV) vaccine that boosts VZV-specific cell-mediated immunity (CMI), and this is its presumed mechanism of action. Other strategies focus on preventing the major complication of HZ, post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). Evidence that the vaccine is effective in older patients comes from the pivotal Shingles Prevention Study. That study demonstrated that HZ vaccine significantly reduced morbidity due to HZ and PHN in older patients. However, the duration of efficacy beyond 5 years after vaccination remains unclear. The Long-Term Persistence Substudy, currently under analysis, may provide additional data on the duration of efficacy for zoster vaccine. This review discusses vaccination against HZ, and further reviews recent pharmacotherapy for prevention of PHN.
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