The Role of Varicella Zoster Virus in the Development of Periapical Pathoses and Root Resorption: A Systematic Review

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Varicella zoster virus (VZV) and subsequent herpes zoster (HZ) infection have been proposed as a causative agent of periapical pathoses and root resorption. This review aimed to identify, synthesize, and present a critical analysis of the available data on the association among VZV, subsequent HZ infection, and the development of periapical pathoses and root resorption and to analyze the level of evidence of available studies.


The literature search covered MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded, and Scopus. A qualitative critical appraisal of the included articles was performed.


The electronic database search yielded 66 hits from PubMed, 73 hits from Web of Science, and 107 from Scopus. Seven case reports and 3 cross-sectional studies were included in the final review. When summarized, in 7 patients with a history of a previous HZ attack and with no other apparent cause, 23 teeth were diagnosed with apical periodontitis, 8 teeth with internal and 1 tooth with external root resorption. The cross-sectional studies investigated the presence of VZV DNA in samples of acute apical abscess. The VZV DNA was found only in 2 of 65 samples.


All studies included in this systematic review had a low level of evidence (4 and 5). Still, the potential role of VZV in the etiopathogenesis of periapical pathoses and root resorption cannot be ruled out. Future investigations should be directed toward the analysis of VZV pathologic effects on pulp blood vessels, which might cause local ischemia and tissue necrosis.

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