The female genital tract is immunologically unique because it must be tolerant to spermatozoa, pregnancy, and vaginal flora, but also protect the host from pathogen challenge. The mucosal response to herpes simplex viruses (HSV), a major cause of genital ulcerative disease and critical co-factor in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, is complex and consists of the normally acidic vaginal environment, constitutively secreted and induced antimicrobial peptides, complement, and cellular responses mediated by epithelial and immune cells. This review summarizes our current understanding of the mucosal response to HSV focusing on those factors that may prevent initial infection. Understanding how each of these components contribute to innate immunity, mechanisms of antiviral activity, and whether the virus has evolved strategies to evade their effects may lead to the development of novel vaginal microbicides.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine