Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Is More Difficult to Neutralize by Antibodies Than Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1

Infections with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2) are a global health burden. Besides painful oral or genital lesions in otherwise healthy subjects, both viruses can cause devastating morbidity and mortality in immune-compromised and immune-immature individuals. The latter are particularly susceptible to a disseminated, life-threatening disease. Neutralizing antibodies (NAb) constitute a correlate of protection from disease, and are promising candidates for the prophylactic or therapeutic treatment of severe HSV infections. However, a clinical vaccine trial suggested that HSV-2 might be more resistant to NAbs than HSV-1. In the present study, we investigated the antiviral efficacy of the well-characterized humanized monoclonal antibody (mAb) hu2c against HSV-2, in a NOD/SCID immunodeficiency mouse model. Despite the fact that hu2c recognizes a fully conserved epitope and binds HSV-1 and HSV-2 glycoprotein B with equal affinity, it was much less effective against HSV-2 in vitro and in NOD/SCID mice. Although intravenous antibody treatment prolonged the survival of HSV-2-infected mice, complete protection from death was not achieved. Our data demonstrate that HSV-2 is more resistant to NAbs than HSV-1, even if the same antibody and antigen are concerned, making the development of a vaccine or therapeutic antibodies more challenging.


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