Update on herpes virus infections of the nervous system.
Herpes simplex viruses types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) are human neurotropic viruses that establish latent infection in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) for the entire life of the host. From the DRG they can reactivate to cause human morbidity and mortality. Although they vary, in part, in the clinical disorders they cause, and in their molecular structure, they share several features that govern the biology of their infection of the human nervous system. HSV-1 is the causative agent of encephalitis, corneal blindness, and several peripheral nervous system disorders; HSV-2 is responsible for meningoencephalitis in neonates and meningitis in adults. The biology of their ability to establish latency, maintain it for the entire life of the host, reactivate, and cause primary and recurrent disease is being studied in animal models and in humans. This review covers recent advances in understanding the biology and pathogenesis of HSV-related disease.
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