Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection is usually mild in healthy individuals but can cause severe disease in immunocompromised patients. Prophylaxis with varicella-zoster immunoglobulin can reduce the severity of VZV if given shortly after exposure. Glycoprotein H (gH) is a highly conserved herpesvirus protein with functions in virus entry and cell-cell spread and is a target of neutralizing antibodies. The anti-gH monoclonal antibody (MAb) 206 neutralizes VZV in vitro. To determine the requirement for gH in VZV pathogenesis in vivo, MAb 206 was administered to SCID mice with human skin xenografts inoculated with VZV. Anti-gH antibody given at 6 h postinfection significantly reduced the frequency of skin xenograft infection by 42%. Virus titers, genome copies, and lesion size were decreased in xenografts that became infected. In contrast, administering anti-gH antibody at 4 days postinfection suppressed VZV replication but did not reduce the frequency of infection. The neutralizing anti-gH MAb 206 blocked virus entry, cell fusion, or both in skin in vivo. In vitro, MAb 206 bound to plasma membranes and to surface virus particles. Antibody was internalized into vacuoles within infected cells, associated with intracellular virus particles, and colocalized with markers for early endosomes and multivesicular bodies but not the trans-Golgi network. MAb 206 blocked spread, altered intracellular trafficking of gH, and bound to surface VZV particles, which might facilitate their uptake and targeting for degradation. As a consequence, antibody interference with gH function would likely prevent or significantly reduce VZV replication in skin during primary or recurrent infection.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JVI.01338-09
View details for Web of Science ID 000272564300013
View details for PubMedID 19828615