Background: Herpes simplex viruses (HSV) are human pathogens that establish lytic and latent infections. Reactivation from latency occurs intermittently, which represents a life-long source for recurrent infection. The role of immune factors in the control of recurrent symptomatic HSV lesions is complex and the exact role of cytokines remains unclear.
Objective: To assess the levels of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) along with anti-herpetic IgG and IgM, in the symptomatic reactivation of HSV infection.
Methods: Thirty-six patients with recurrent symptomatic herpes infection were selected as the study group and thirty-two healthy individuals with no history of symptomatic labial herpes infection enrolled as the control group. Skin swabs were obtained from lip and skin lesions for viral culture. Confirmation of HSV cytopathic effect was carried out using PCR assay. The levels of TNF-α, IL-10, IgG and IgM were measured using ELISA.
Results: The level of TNF-α was significantly lower in individuals with recurrent symptomatic herpes infection in comparison with the controls (p=0.04). Also a significant elevation was observed in the levels of specific IgG in patients compared to controls (p<0.05).
Conclusion: The decreased level of TNF-α and increased levels of IgG in individuals with a history of symptomatic reactivation of HSV infection is suggestive of a probable shift in favor of the Th2 immune response.