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!
Researchers simplify tiny structures' construction drip by drip
12.11.2018 | Princeton University, Engineering School
Mandibular movement monitoring may help improve oral sleep apnea devices
06.11.2018 | Elsevier
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
19.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.11.2018 | Information Technology
19.11.2018 | Life Sciences