Research ArticleInfectious Disease

Maternal immunization confers protection against neonatal herpes simplex mortality and behavioral morbidity

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Science Translational Medicine  10 Apr 2019:
Vol. 11, Issue 487, eaau6039
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau6039

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Nipping neonatal HSV in the bud

Vertical transmission of herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 or 2 can have devastating consequences for newborn babies. Despite existing antivirals, systemic HSV can lead to permanent central nervous system damage or even death. Patel et al. examined human samples and used a pregnant mouse model to determine whether maternal immunity could protect against neonatal HSV infection. They detected maternal anti-HSV IgG in cord blood, demonstrating that protective antibodies cross the placenta. Passive transfer of anti-HSV IgG or vaccination of pregnant mice protected pups from neonatal HSV-1 or HSV-2 challenge. Their findings suggest that vaccination of expectant mothers may reduce morbidity and mortality associated with neonatal HSV infections.