Thrombotic cerebral vasculopathy associated with herpes zoster

Ann Neurol. 1986 Jan;19(1):7-14. doi: 10.1002/ana.410190103.


We describe the clinical, radiographic, and pathological findings in 3 patients with large-vessel cerebral vasculopathy following herpes zoster. Two of the patients were studied at postmortem examination, and a brain biopsy was performed in the third. Each of the 3 patients suffered thrombotic occlusions of large vessels without notable inflammatory or granulomatous changes following trigeminal or segmental herpes zoster infection. In the 2 autopsied patients, varicella-zoster virus (VZV) antigens were detected by immunoperoxidase staining within the media of the affected cerebral arteries. Little or no inflammation was associated with the foci of the VZV antigens. These studies provide evidence that the vasculopathy following herpes zoster may result from direct VZV infection of the artery and the in situ thrombosis can develop within the infected vessels in the absence of clear inflammatory vasculitis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, Viral / analysis
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Circle of Willis / pathology
  • Female
  • Herpes Zoster / complications*
  • Herpes Zoster / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human / immunology
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / etiology*
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Antigens, Viral