What Causes Herpes Cold Sores? New Research

Its activation is necessary for HSV to reactivate in response to interleukin 1, as well as other triggers such as nerve cell damage, she said. This makes DLK a good target for preventing HSV, Cliffe added.

Repeated reactivation of HSV can also affect the eyes. In the eye, the virus leads to herpetic keratitis, can lead to blindness if left untreated. HSV infection has also been linked to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

It is not clear whether these findings have implications for treating HSV or preventing it, Cliffe said. But this research and future research could identify targets that may change the way the virus responds to stress.

In the future, those findings could lead to ways to prevent epidemics, Cliffe said.

Brittany LeMonda, senior neuropsychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, reviewed the results.

“The virus actually attacks our body’s natural immune response to stress,” she said.

The cytokine the body releases in response to stress is the same that can cause re-expression of HSV, LeMonda noted.

The way to prevent flare-ups is to reduce stress and follow a healthy lifestyle, she said.

“Eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, reducing anxiety and improving mental health are ways not only to reduce stress, but also to prevent the disease from recurring,” LaMonda said.

The results were recently published online in the journal eLife.

More information

To learn more about herpes simplex, visit the American Academy of Dermatology.

SOURCES: Anna Cliffe, PhD, assistant professor, microbiology, immunology and cancer biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville; Brittany LeMonda, PhD, senior neuropsychologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York; eLife, online, December 22, 2020

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