The equine immune response to equine herpesvirus-1: the virus and its vaccines

Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2006 May 15;111(1-2):15-30. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2006.01.005. Epub 2006 Feb 14.


Equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) is an alphaherpesvirus which infects horses, causing respiratory and neurological disease and abortion in pregnant mares. Latency is established in trigeminal ganglia and lymphocytes. Immunity to EHV-1 lasts between 3 and 6 months. Current vaccines, many of which contain inactivated virus, have reduced the incidence of abortion storms in pregnant mares but individual animals, which may be of high commercial value, remain susceptible to infection. The development of effective vaccines which stimulate both humoral and cellular immune responses remains a priority. Utilising data generated following experimental and field infections of the target species, this review describes the immunopathogenesis of EHV-1 and the interaction between the horse's immune system and this virus, both in vivo and in vitro, and identifies immune responses, highlighting those which have been associated with protective immunity. It then goes on to recount a brief history of vaccination, outlines factors likely to influence the outcome of vaccine administration and describes the immune response stimulated by a selection of commercial and experimental vaccines. Finally, based on the available data, a rational strategy designed to stimulate protective immune responses by vaccination is outlined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Female
  • Herpesviridae Infections / immunology*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / prevention & control
  • Herpesviridae Infections / veterinary*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / virology
  • Herpesvirus 1, Equid / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus Vaccines / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Horse Diseases / immunology*
  • Horse Diseases / prevention & control
  • Horse Diseases / virology*
  • Horses
  • Pregnancy
  • Vaccination / veterinary*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Herpesvirus Vaccines