The neurotropic herpes viruses: herpes simplex and varicella-zoster

Israel Steiner*, Peter GE Kennedy, Andrew R. Pachner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Herpes simplex viruses types 1 and 2 (HSV1 and HSV2) and varicella-zoster virus (VZV) establish latent infection in dorsal root ganglia for the entire life of the host. From this reservoir they can reactivate to cause human morbidity and mortality. Although the viruses vary in the clinical disorders they cause and in their molecular structure, they share several features that affect the course of infection of the human nervous system. HSV1 is the causative agent of encephalitis, corneal blindness, and several disorders of the peripheral nervous system; HSV2 is responsible for meningoencephalitis in neonates and meningitis in adults. Reactivation of VZV, the pathogen of varicella (chickenpox), is associated with herpes zoster (shingles) and central nervous system complications such as myelitis and focal vasculopathies. We review the biological, medical, and neurological aspects of acute, latent, and reactivated infections with the neurotropic herpes viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1028
Number of pages14
JournalThe Lancet Neurology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


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