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Herpesviruses: Latency and Reactivation - Viral Strategies and Host Response


Herpesviruses: Latency and Reactivation - Viral Strategies and Host Response

Bjørn Grinde. J Oral Microbiol.


Eight members of the Herpesviridae family commonly infect humans, and close to 100% of the adult population is infected with at least one of these. The five that cause the most health concerns are: herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 and 2, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and varicella zoster virus (VZV). In addition, there are human herpes virus (HHV) types 6-8. The review starts by introducing possible viral strategies in general. The particular biology and host relationship of the various human herpesviruses, including their pathology, are examined subsequently. Factors that contribute to the maintenance of latency and reactivation of viral replication are discussed. There will be special reference to how these viruses exploit and contribute to pathology in the oral cavity. Reactivation does not necessarily imply clinical symptoms, as reflected in the asymptomatic shedding of EBV and CMV from oral mucosa. The immune response and the level of viral output are both important to the consequences experienced.

Keywords: Epstein–Barr; cytomegalovirus; herpes simplex; immune defense; oral cavity; reemergence; varicella zoster; viral pathology.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Schematic diagram of EBV replication cycle as an example of a typical herpesviral strategy. Modified from a figure in Wikimedia Creative Commons, author Graham Colm.

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