Recurrent genital herpes lesions are infiltrated by various leukocytes, yet the role of B cell subsets in this process is unknown. In this issue of the JCI, Ford et al. describe the presence and antibody-secreting role of local B cell populations in herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) recurrent lesions. The authors analyzed a comprehensive array of sequential skin biopsy specimens from HSV-2–infected patients over time and at various stages of infection. Using immunofluorescence and in situ hybridization, the authors show the presence of rare IgD+ naive B cells and IgG-expressing antibody-secreting cells (ASCs) in recurrent HSV-2 lesions embedded in CD4+ T cell–rich dermal immune infiltrates, levels of which transiently increase during lesion reactivation and healing. Notably, local increases in HSV-2–specific antibodies in recurrent lesions were detected, whereas serum HSV-2 antibody levels remained stable. Future research is needed to understand the precise role of these tissue-visiting B cells in disease resolution.
Jeff R. Gehlhausen, Akiko Iwasaki
Model of cutaneous and mucosal immune responses to HSV-2 reactivation.