Primary herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection leads to a life-long latent infection of ganglia innervating the oral mucosa. HSV-1 and VZV reactivation is more common in immunocompromised individuals and may result in viral shedding in saliva. We determined the kinetics and quantity of oral HSV-1 and VZV shedding in HSV-1 and VZV seropositive individuals infected with HIV and to assess whether HSV-1 shedding involves reactivation of the same strain intra-individually. HSV-1 and VZV shedding was determined by real-time PCR of sequential daily oral swabs (n=715) collected for a median period of 31 days from 22 individuals infected with HIV. HSV-1 was genotyped by sequencing the viral thymidine kinase gene. Herpesvirus shedding was detected in 18 of 22 participants. Shedding of HSV-1 occurred frequently, on 14.3% of days, whereas solely VZV shedding was very rare. Two participants shed VZV. The median HSV-1 load was higher compared to VZV. HSV-1 DNA positive swabs clustered into 34 shedding episodes with a median duration of 2 days. The prevalence, duration and viral load of herpesvirus shedding did not correlate with CD4 counts and HIV load. The genotypes of the HSV-1 viruses shed were identical between and within shedding episodes of the same person, but were different between individuals. One-third of the individuals shed an HSV-1 strain potentially refractory to acyclovir therapy. Compared to HSV-1, oral VZV shedding is rare in individuals infected with HIV. Recurrent oral HSV-1 shedding is likely due to reactivation of the same latent HSV-1 strain.

Genotyping, Human herpesvirus-1, Human herpesvirus-3, Immunocompromised, Reactivation, Saliva,
Journal of Medical Virology
Department of Virology

van Velzen, M, Ouwendijk, W.J.D, Selke, S, Pas, S.D, van Loenen, F.B, Osterhaus, A.D.M.E, … Verjans, G.M.G.M. (2013). Longitudinal study on oral shedding of herpes simplex virus 1 and varicella-zoster virus in individuals infected with HIV. Journal of Medical Virology, 85(9), 1669–1677. doi:10.1002/jmv.23634