"Rapid localized spread and immunologic containment define Herpes simplex virus-2 reactivation in the human genital tract"
Filed under Immunology
Herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) is shed episodically, leading to occasional genital ulcers and efficient transmission. The biology explaining highly variable shedding patterns, in an infected person over time, is poorly understood. We sampled the genital tract for HSV DNA at several time intervals and concurrently at multiple sites, and derived a spatial mathematical model to characterize dynamics of HSV-2 reactivation. The model reproduced heterogeneity in shedding episode duration and viral production, and predicted rapid early viral expansion, rapid late decay, and wide spatial dispersion of HSV replication during episodes. In simulations, HSV-2 spread locally within single ulcers to thousands of epithelial cells in <12 hr, but host immune responses eliminated infected cells in <24 hr; secondary ulcers formed following spatial propagation of cell-free HSV-2, allowing for episode prolongation. We conclude that HSV-2 infection is characterized by extremely rapid virological growth and containment at multiple contemporaneous sites within genital