Neuroinvasiveness is a property central to the pathogenesis of herpes simplex virus (HSV) and most isolates demonstrate this property. Exceptions are HSV strains KOS and ANG, for which we have previously shown that the non-neuroinvasive phenotype is referable to single amino acid changes in glycoprotein D for ANG or glycoprotein B for KOS. Because glycoproteins B and D are immunologically significant, the possibility that the phenotype has an immunologic basis was examined. Nonimmunosuppressed mice could not be killed with any dose of these non-neuroinvasive viruses after footpad inoculation, but in cyclophosphamide-suppressed animals, the ratios of plaque-forming units to LD50 decreased by at least four orders of magnitude to levels comparable with that of ANG-path, a neuroinvasive derivative of ANG. KOS and ANG induced a more rapid circulating neutralizing Ab response than did ANG-path, and mice were protected when these agents were co-infected with the neuroinvasive strain. The noninvasive viruses engendered an enhanced mononuclear cell infiltrate in infected spinal ganglia which consisted of increased numbers of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and an increased production and secretion of IgG. HSV-specific Ab-secreting cells were also observed. In addition, passive transfer of anti-HSV mouse serum protected immunosuppressed mice from lethal HSV challenge. Selective in vivo depletion of T lymphocytes increased the detectable levels of both KOS and ANG viruses in the spinal ganglia at 6 days postinfection, but it did not alter the ratios of plaque-forming units to LD50 or affect the HSV-induced increase in ganglionic IgG. Taken together, these data indicate that in these systems there is an immunologic basis for the control of HSV-1 neuroinvasiveness and that humoral, rather than cell-mediated immunity, is playing the major role.

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