Cell-to-cell spread blocking activity is extremely limited in the sera of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1)- And HSV-2infected subjects

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Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and HSV-2 can evade serum antibody-mediated neutralization through cell-to-cell transmission mechanisms, which represent one of the central steps in disease reactivation. To address the role of humoral immunity in controlling HSV-1 and HSV-2 replication, we analyzed serum samples from 44 HSV-1 and HSV-2 seropositive subjects by evaluating (i) their efficiency in binding both the purified viral particles and recombinant gD and gB viral glycoproteins, (ii) their neutralizing activity, and (iii) their capacity to inhibit the cell-to-cell virus passage in vitro. All of the sera were capable of binding gD, gB, and whole virions, and all sera significantly neutralized cell-free virus. However, neither whole sera nor purified serum IgG fraction was able to inhibit significantly cell-to-cell virus spreading in in vitro post-virus-entry infectious assays. Conversely, when spiked with an already described anti-gD human monoclonal neutralizing antibody capable of inhibiting HSV-1 and -2 cell-to-cell transmission, each serum boosted both its neutralizing and post-virus-entry inhibitory activity, with no interference exerted by serum antibody subpopulations. IMPORTANCE Despite its importance in the physiopathology of HSV-1 and -2 infections, the cell-to-cell spreading mechanism is still poorly understood. The data shown here suggest that infection-elicited neutralizing antibodies capable of inhibiting cell-to-cell virus spread can be underrepresented in most infected subjects. These observations can be of great help in better understanding the role of humoral immunity in controlling virus reactivation and in the perspective of developing novel therapeutic strategies, studying novel correlates of protection, and designing effective vaccines.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0007019
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Cell-to-cell virus spread
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • Human monoclonal antibodies
  • Humoral immunity
  • Neutralizing activity
  • Serum neutralizing antibodies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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