Enhanced Verifiable CPD from the
University of Birmingham

Dentaljuce Shorts: 500 words, 10 MCQs, on general medicine and surgery.

Herpes Simplex Virus

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) encompasses two main species: HSV-1 and HSV-2, known scientifically as Human alphaherpesvirus 1 and Human alphaherpesvirus 2, respectively. Both viruses belong to the Herpesviridae family, which causes viral infections in humans.

HSV-1 primarily causes oral herpes, while HSV-2 mainly leads to genital herpes. Both are highly contagious and prevalent worldwide.


HSV infections are often asymptomatic, but when symptoms do occur, they typically manifest as watery blisters on the skin or mucous membranes, such as the mouth, lips, nose, genitals, or eyes. These blisters heal with a scab characteristic of herpetic disease. HSV-1 and HSV-2 are neurotropic and neuroinvasive, meaning they persist in the body by hiding in neurons. After the primary infection, sporadic viral reactivations can occur, leading to outbreaks where new sores may develop.


Transmission occurs through contact with an infected person who is shedding the virus, which can happen even asymptomatically. HSV-1 is often acquired orally in childhood but can also be sexually transmitted. HSV-2 is generally a sexually transmitted infection but can also be transmitted from mother to child during childbirth. The virus can survive on surfaces for up to 4.5 hours, allowing for potential transmission through shared objects like towels and toothbrushes.

TEM micrograph of virions of a herpes simplex virus species
TEM micrograph of virions of a herpes simplex virus species


HSV has a double-stranded DNA genome encased in an icosahedral capsid, surrounded by a lipid bilayer envelope. The virus contains 74 known genes, which encode various proteins involved in forming the capsid, tegument, and envelope, and in controlling replication and infectivity.

Viral Structure

3D reconstruction of the HSV-1 capsid
3D reconstruction of the HSV-1 capsid
Herpes simplex virus 2 capsid
Herpes simplex virus 2 capsid

Cellular Entry

HSV enters host cells through glycoproteins on its surface binding to cell surface receptors. This binding induces membrane fusion, allowing viral contents to enter the host cell.

A simplified diagram of HSV replication
A simplified diagram of HSV replication

Replication and Latency

After entering the cell, HSV expresses immediate early genes, followed by early and late genes, leading to viral replication. The virus can also establish latency, particularly in neural ganglia, where it remains dormant until reactivation.

Micrograph showing the viral cytopathic effect of HSV
Micrograph showing the viral cytopathic effect of HSV (multinucleation, ground glass chromatin).


HSV infections are lifelong, with no current treatment capable of eradicating the virus. Antiviral drugs like aciclovir and valaciclovir are used to manage symptoms, reduce the severity of outbreaks, and lower transmission risk. Drug resistance can occur, necessitating ongoing research into new treatments.

Alzheimer's Disease Link

Research suggests a possible link between HSV-1 and Alzheimer's disease, particularly in individuals with the epsilon4 allele of the APOE gene. HSV-1 may increase the risk of Alzheimer's by interacting with lipoprotein components and receptors, leading to the development of the disease.

Use as an Anti-Cancer Agent

Modified HSV is being looked at as a potential cancer therapy due to its ability to kill cancer cells. Clinical trials are ongoing to assess its efficacy against various cancers, including melanoma.

Neuronal Connection Tracing

HSV is also used in neuroscience research as a transneuronal tracer to map neuronal connections by crossing synapses.

Other Related Outcomes

HSV-2 is a common cause of Mollaret's meningitis, while HSV-1 can lead to herpes simplex encephalitis. There is also ongoing research into its potential involvement in other central nervous system disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.


Despite vaccines for other herpesviruses, no vaccine exists for HSV. Research is ongoing to develop vaccines for treatment and prevention, with several pre-clinical and clinical studies underway.

HSV replication cycle
HSV replication cycle

Self-assessment MCQs (single best answer)

Which family does the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) belong to?

What is the primary cause of oral herpes?

How does HSV typically manifest when symptoms occur?

Through what primary mode is HSV-2 generally transmitted?

What is the structure surrounding HSV's DNA genome?

Where does HSV establish latency in the body?

Which antiviral drugs are commonly used to manage HSV infections?

HSV has been linked to which neurodegenerative disease, particularly in individuals with the epsilon4 allele of the APOE gene?

Which technique is HSV used for in neuroscience research?

What is Mollaret's meningitis commonly associated with?


Dentaljuce provides Enhanced Continuing Professional Development (CPD) with GDC-approved Certificates for dental professionals worldwide.

Founded in 2009 by the award-winning Masters team from the School of Dentistry at the University of Birmingham, Dentaljuce has established itself as the leading platform for online CPD.

With over 100 high-quality online courses available for a single annual membership fee, Dentaljuce offers comprehensive e-learning designed for busy dental professionals.

The courses cover a complete range of topics, from clinical skills to patient communication, and are suitable for dentists, nurses, hygienists, therapists, students, and practice managers.

Dentaljuce features Dr. Aiden, a dentally trained AI-powered personal tutor available 24/7 to assist with queries and provide guidance through complex topics, enhancing the learning experience.

Check out our range of courses, or sign up now!

Membership Options

Dentaljuce offers a range of membership options…

Regular Membership

With enhanced CPD Certificates. Dentaljuce is brought to you by the award winning Masters team from the School of Dentistry, University of Birmingham, UK. All have won awards for web based learning and teaching and are recognised as leaders and innovators in this field, as well as being highly experienced clinical teachers. Full access to over 100 courses, no extras to pay.

Buy Now

£89.00 per year

Student Membership

No Certificates. With universities cutting down on traditional lectures, many students are currently having to rely more on online resources. If you don't need CPD Certificates, we are offering an amazing discount on your Dentaljuce personal membership fee. Special student price just £29 for 12 months individual membership.

Buy Now

£29.00 per year

I love the personal touch of Dr. Aiden. It's amazing how accurately he responds to my questions.

© Dentaljuce 2024 | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy

Recording CPD time: recorded.