Glutamine supplementation suppresses herpes simplex virus reactivation

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Abstract

Chronic viral infections are difficult to treat, and new approaches are needed, particularly those aimed at reducing reactivation by enhancing immune responses. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) establishes latency and reactivates frequently, and breakthrough reactivation can occur despite suppressive antiviral therapy. Virus-specific T cells are important to control HSV, and proliferation of activated T cells requires increased metabolism of glutamine. Here, we found that supplementation with oral glutamine reduced virus reactivation in latently HSV-1–infected mice and HSV-2–infected guinea pigs. Transcriptome analysis of trigeminal ganglia from latently HSV-1–infected, glutamine-treated WT mice showed upregulation of several IFN-γ–inducible genes. In contrast to WT mice, supplemental glutamine was ineffective in reducing the rate of HSV-1 reactivation in latently HSV-1–infected IFN-γ–KO mice. Mice treated with glutamine also had higher numbers of HSV-specific IFN-γ–producing CD8 T cells in latently infected ganglia. Thus, glutamine may enhance the IFN-γ–associated immune response and reduce the rate of reactivation of latent virus infection.

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