Previous studies have indicated that suberythemal ultraviolet B (UV-B) irradiation of C3H mice before primary infection with herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 does not result in increased morbidity or mortality, but a suppressed delayed type hypersensitivity (DH) to the virus can be demonstrated. Any effect of UV radiation on pathogenesis during secondary epidermal HSV infection has not been previously examined. Mice were immunized by subcutaneous injection of inactivated HSV and, 5 days later, one group was UV-B-irradiated. The next day all mice were challenged epidermally with HSV. Most of the mice (92%) in the irradiated group developed severe lesions, whilst 59% of the non-irradiated group had mild lesions and 30% no lesions. Infectious virus was not isolated from the adrenal glands after challenge in either group. In addition, the DH to the virus was not affected by the UV exposure. The numbers of lymphocytes and dendritic cells in the lymph nodes draining the site of epidermal infection were increased in the UV group compared with the non-irradiated group. Following challenge, the percentage of CD4 and CD8 lymphocytes in lymph nodes was unaltered but the MHC class II expression on dendritic cells in these lymph nodes was reduced by UV exposure. The lymphoproliferative response of lymph node cells revealed a suppressed response to HSV and to the mitogen concanavalin A in the irradiated group. Thus, UV irradiation prior to epidermal secondary infection with HSV led to more severe infections due, perhaps, to a modulation in local antigen presentation.


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