Assessment of skin test with varicella-zoster virus antigen for predicting the risk of herpes zoster

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The Shozu Herpes Zoster (SHEZ) Study was designed to clarify the incidence of and predictive and immunological factors for herpes zoster in a defined community-based Japanese population. As part of this series, a total of 5683 residents aged ≥50 years received a varicella-zoster virus (VZV) skin test with VZV antigen, and 48 h later, the erythema and oedema were assessed by measuring the longest diameter. The diameters of both the erythema and oedema decreased with the increasing age of the subject. Sixty-three subjects contracted herpes zoster within a year after receiving the VZV skin test. Analysis of the herpes zoster incidence rate vs. the skin test reaction revealed that the shorter the diameter of erythema or oedema, the greater the likelihood of herpes zoster. These results demonstrated that the VZV skin test is an excellent surrogate marker for predicting the risk of herpes zoster.

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