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Psychological and Immunological Predictors of Genital Herpes Recurrence

CITATION:  Kemeny, M.E., Cohen, F., Zegans, L.S., and Conant, M.A.(1989) Psychological and Immunological Predictors of Genital Herpes Recurrence.  Psychosomatic Medicine 51:195-208.

ABSTRACT:  The relationships among stressful life experience, mood, helper-inducer (CD4+) and suppressor-cytotoxic (CD8+) T cells and genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) recurrence were investigated prospectively in 36 patients with recurrent HSV. The following factors were measured monthly for six months: stressful life experience (including current acute and ongoing stressors, residual effects of previous stressors, and anticipation of future stressors), negative mood, health behaviors, other possible HSV triggers, HSV recurrences, and the proportion of CD4+ and CD8+ cells (in half the sample). Results averaging monthly scores over the six-month study period indicated that: 1) subjects with high levels of stressful experience had a lower proportion of both CD4+ and CD8+ cells, 2) subjects with high levels of depressive mood, anxiety, or hostility had a lower proportion of CD8+ cells, and 3) subjects with high levels of depressive mood who did not report many symptoms of other infections had a higher rate of
HSV recurrence. A model is proposed linking depressive mood, CD8+ cells, and HSV recurrence.

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