The challenge of developing a herpes simplex virus 2 vaccine

Expert Rev Vaccines. 2012 Dec;11(12):1429-40. doi: 10.1586/erv.12.129.


HSV infections are prevalent worldwide. A vaccine to prevent genital herpes would have a significant impact on this disease. Several vaccines have shown promise in animal models; however, so far these have not been successful in human clinical studies. Prophylactic HSV vaccines to prevent HSV infection or disease have focused primarily on eliciting antibody responses. Potent antibody responses are needed to result in sufficiently high levels of virus-specific antibody in the genital tract. Therapeutic vaccines that reduce recurrences need to induce potent T-cell responses at the site of infection. With the increasing incidence of HSV-1 genital herpes, an effective herpes vaccine should protect against both HSV-1 and HSV-2. Novel HSV vaccines, such as replication-defective or attenuated viruses, have elicited humoral and cellular immune responses in preclinical studies. These vaccines and others hold promise in future clinical studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Antibody Formation
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Herpes Genitalis / immunology
  • Herpes Genitalis / prevention & control*
  • Herpes Simplex Virus Vaccines / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Secondary Prevention
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / immunology
  • Vaccines, Subunit / immunology
  • Virus Shedding


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Herpes Simplex Virus Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Inactivated
  • Vaccines, Subunit