Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Varicella-zoster virus-specific cell-mediated immunity in Ramsay Hunt syndrome.

Laryngoscope 2016 January
OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: The etiology of Ramsay Hunt syndrome (Hunt syndrome) is reactivation of latent varicella-zoster virus (VZV) in the geniculate ganglion of the facial nerve, leading to neuritis. Although the mechanism of the VZV reactivation is unclear, one possibility is that the reactivation involves a low level of VZV-specific cell-mediated immunity (CMI). The aim of this study was to clarify the characteristics of the VZV-specific CMI in Hunt syndrome compared to that in Bell's palsy, and to obtain clues to its role in the development of Hunt syndrome.

STUDY DESIGN: Prospective study.

METHODS: We determined the median spot numbers and examined VZV-specific CMI in patients with Hunt syndrome and with Bell's palsy using interferon-γ enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assays. We analyzed the relationship between the value of VZV-specific CMI and days from disease onset.

RESULTS: The median spot number in Hunt syndrome (87.3 spot-forming cells [SFCs]/4 × 10(5) peripheral blood mononuclear cells [PBMCs]) was higher than that in Bell's palsy (62.3 SFCs/4 × 10(5) PBMCs). Hunt syndrome showed a strong relationship between the ELISPOT count and days from onset (r = 0.65). Within the first 5 days from onset, no ELISPOT counts higher than 80 SFCs/4 × 10(5) PBMCs were observed. On the other hand, no correlation was observed between the ELISPOT count and days from onset in patients with Bell's palsy (r = -0.19).

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that VZV-specific CMI in Hunt syndrome is low at disease onset and increases rapidly thereafter. Consequently, reduced VZV-specific CMI may play an important role in the reactivation of VZV in the facial nerve, leading to Hunt syndrome.

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