Persistence of a T cell infiltrate in human ganglia years after herpes zoster and during post-herpetic neuralgia

Jeremy P. Sutherland, Megan Steain, Michael E. Buckland, Michael Rodriguez, Anthony L. Cunningham, Barry Slobedman, Allison Abendroth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a human herpesvirus which causes varicella (chicken pox) during primary infection, establishes latency in sensory ganglia, and can reactivate from this site to cause herpes zoster (HZ) (shingles). A major complication of HZ is a severe and often debilitating pain called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) which persists long after the resolution of the HZ-associated rash. The underlying cause of PHN is not known, although it has been postulated that it may be a consequence of immune cell mediated damage. However, the nature of virus-immune cell interactions within ganglia during PHN is unknown. We obtained rare formalin fixed paraffin embedded sections cut from surgically excised ganglia from a PHN-affected patient years following HZ rash resolution. VZV DNA was readily detected by qPCR and regions of immune infiltration were detected by hematoxylin and eosin staining. Immunostaining using a range of antibodies against immune cell subsets revealed an immune cell response comprising of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and CD20+ B cells. This study explores the immune cell repertoire present in ganglia during PHN and provides evidence for an ongoing immune cell inflammation years after HZ.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2117
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • ganglia
  • herpes zoster (HZ)
  • immune cell
  • post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN)
  • varicella-zoster virus


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