Modulation of Immune Responses to Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 by IFNL3 and IRF7 Polymorphisms: A Study in Alzheimer's Disease

Andrea Saul Costa, Simone Agostini, Franca Rosa Guerini, Roberta Mancuso, Milena Zanzottera, Enrico Ripamonti, Vittorio Racca, Raffaello Nemni, Mario Clerici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) has long been suspected to play a role in Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common form of dementia. IFN-lambda (IFN-λ) is one of the key cytokine in innate antiviral defenses and, in particular, has an appreciable antiviral activity against HSV-1 infection. IFN-λ expression is regulated by the interaction between two different proteins: Mediator Complex 23 (MED23) and Interferon-Responsive Transcription Factor 7 (IRF7); single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these genes as well as in IFNL3 were shown to be differently distributed in AD patients. In this study, allelic discrimination analysis for IFNL3 rs12979860, MED23 rs3756784, and IRF7 rs6598008, as well as IFN-λ serum concentration and anti-HSV-1 antibody (Ab) titers were performed in 79 AD patients, 57 mild cognitive impairment (MCI) individuals, and 81 healthy controls (HC) who were HSV-1-seropositive. Results showed that INF-λ serum concentration was increased in AD and MCI carrying the IFNL3 T allele compared to HC (AD versus HC: p = 0.014; MCI versus HC: p = 0.029), with the highest anti-HSV-1 Ab titers seen in AD patients carrying the IFNL3 CC genotype (p = 0.012 versus HC). Notably, anti-HSV-1 Ab titers were higher in AD and MCI individuals carrying the IRF7 AA genotype compared to HC (p = 0.018 for both). MED23 polymorphisms did not show any statistical association either with serum IFN-λ or with anti-HSV-1 Ab. Data herein suggest that the IFNL3 rs12979860 and IRF7 rs6598008 polymorphisms modulate immune responses against HSV-1 via their effect on the IFN-λ pathway. These results help to clarify the possible role of HSV-1 infection in AD pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1063
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • gene polymorphisms
  • HSV-1
  • Interferon lambda
  • IRF7
  • MED23
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • SNP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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