Exploring the impact of exposure to primary varicella in children on varicella-zoster virus immunity of parents
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Viral immunology. - New York
, p. 151-157
University of Antwerp
Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes both primary varicella, and through reactivation of the virus, herpes zoster. It is hypothesized that VZV-immune adults may reduce the probability of developing herpes zoster through exposure to varicella. In this study we examine the existence of immunological boosting in VZV-immune adults after close contact with primary varicella. We followed-up 18 parents with household exposure to primary varicella for 1 y. Fifteen age-matched healthy and 20 older volunteers served as control groups. Cellular (IFN-γ ELISPOT) and humoral responses were measured. Data analyses were performed by t-tests and linear mixed models. The young control group only showed higher cellular responses than the older control group and the exposed group 1 mo after exposure. The exposed group had a strong tendency toward higher cellular responses compared to the older control group, reaching significance 1 y post-exposure. The best fitting linear mixed model predicts a decline in cellular response of 50% between 1 wk and 1 mo post-exposure, followed by an increase to attain an 80% higher level at 1 y compared to the first week post-exposure. No significant results emerged based on the humoral response of the individual parents in the exposed group, despite a general tendency toward higher antibody concentrations in the exposed versus the control groups. No significant difference in humoral immunity was found between the control groups. One year after initial re-exposure to VZV, VZV-immune adults showed a rise in cellular response as assessed by IFN-γ ELISPOT, and steady-state levels for the humoral response.