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