The role of antibody in protection of the vaginal mucosa and sensory ganglia against HSV-2 infection was examined using HSV- immune, B-cell- deficient μMT mice. Significantly higher virus titers were detected in the vaginal mucosae of immune μMT mice compared to immune C57BL/6J mice 24 h after HSV-2 rechallenge. However, virus was rapidly cleared in immune μMT mice, and the infection was resolved with only a 2-day delay. Passive transfer of immune serum to immune μMT mice prior to rechallenge resulted in HSV-specific vaginal IgG levels comparable to those of immune C57BL/6J mice. Although transferred antibody failed to prevent reinfection of the majority of recipients, vaginal virus titers at 24 h and clearance kinetics were similar to those of immune C57BL/6J controls. Following vaginal rechallenge, HSV-2 did not spread to the sensory ganglia of immune C57BL/6J mice nor was the rechallenge virus detected in the ganglia of the majority of immune μMT mice. However, protection was severely compromised by T-cell depletion of immune C57BL/6J mice. These results suggest that HSV-specific antibody limits, but does not prevent, infection of the genital epithelia. Further, prevention of virus spread to the sensory ganglia in immune animals requires vigorous T-cell immune responses. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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