"Frequent release of low amounts of herpes simplex virus from neurons: results of a mathematical model"

Filed under Viral Shedding



Herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) is a sexually transmitted infection that is the leading cause of genital ulcers worldwide. Infection is life long and is characterized by repeated asymptomatic and symptomatic shedding episodes of virus that are initiated when virus is released from neurons into the genital tract. The pattern of HSV-2 release from neurons into the genital tract is poorly understood. We fit a mathematical model of HSV-2 pathogenesis to curves generated from daily quantification of HSV in mucosal swabs performed from patients with herpetic genital ulcers. We used virologic parameters derived from model fitting for stochastic model simulations. These simulations reproduced previously documented estimates for shedding frequency, and herpetic lesion diameter and frequency. The most realistic model output occurred when we assumed minimal amounts of daily neuronal virus introduction. In our simulations, small changes in average total quantity of HSV-2 released from neurons influenced detectable shedding frequency, while changes in frequency of neuronal HSV-2 release had little effect. Frequent HSV-2 shedding episodes in humans are explained by nearly constant release of small numbers of viruses from neurons that terminate in the genital tract.