There’s a high probability that people who are prone to herpes simplex virus (HSV) outbreaks can inherit that susceptibility through their genes, University of Utah researchers report in a new study.
In the Feb. 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, the researchers identify a region on the long arm of human chromosome 21 with high odds—at least 1,000-to-1—of being linked to cold sore susceptibility. The researchers further say they pinpointed six specific genes in that chromosomal region as candidates for making people prone to outbreaks of cold sores (also called “fever blisters”). Cold sores occur when the herpes virus reactivates from its quiescent state within the nerve, infecting the lip, nose, or face.
Discovery of the probable link could lead to the development of new drugs that reduce the frequency of herpes outbreaks, according to John D. Kriesel, M.D., the study’s corresponding author and research associate professor in the U School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases.
“One or more of these genes might make excellent targets for new drugs to reduce the number of herpes outbreaks,” Kriesel said. Maurine R. Hobbs, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, is the study’s first author.
The study is available online now.
There are two types of the herpes simplex virus. Type 1 (HSV-1) is responsible for the vast majority of cold sores, the most common recurring viral infection in humans, as well as herpes keratits, an eye infection that can lead to corneal scarring and blindness. The majority of the U.S. population is infected with HSV-1, although millions of people manifest no symptoms. Nonetheless, at least 40 percent of the population will experience at least one cold sore at some point during their lives.
Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is the primary cause of genital herpes, and infects an estimated 17 percent of the U.S. population or approximately 50 million people. Between 5 million and 10 million people in this group have recognized cases of genital herpes.
To search for cold sore susceptibility genes, the U researchers used linkage analysis, which traces genetic markers in families to identify regions on chromosomes that harbor disease genes. When genetic mutations are passed from parent to offspring, genetic markers near the disease gene are passed along as well. By identifying markers shared among family members, researchers can locate regions of chromosomes where genes responsible for disease may lie. The U of U study was the first whole-genome study of herpes simplex virus to use linkage analysis.
The researchers studied 421 people from 39 large Utah families. The families are part of a genomic study called the Utah Genetic Reference Project. Participants were grouped according to how often they experienced cold sore outbreaks:Frequently affected—HSV-1 infected and two or more outbreaks annually
The probable genetic link is not the only component believed to trigger reactivation of HSV and cold sores. Environmental factors, such as fever, wind, and sunburn, also are believed to play a part. Viral factors, like strain and burden of latent infection, also probably influence the frequency of HSV outbreaks.
The researchers began the study with no preconceptions about which regions of the human genome might be linked to cold sore susceptibility, Kriesel said. Therefore, the linkage with the long arm of chromosome 21 came as a surprise. “We didn’t start with the thought that particular genes were important in the search,” he said. “That helped ensure an unbiased study and led to a completely unexpected result in chromosome 21.”
Now Kriesel, Hobbs, and their colleagues are looking at the six candidate susceptibility genes to find out which are related to cold sores. Three of those genes look particularly promising to study.
“Finding a drug target to reduce the frequency of cold sores would be even more valuable if we could expand our study results to include genital herpes or herpes keratitis,” Kriesel said, “and that’s something I’d like to do.”
Phil Sahm | EurekAlert!
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
23.08.2017 | Life Sciences
23.08.2017 | Life Sciences
23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy