Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV‐1) is a ubiquitous and neurotropic pathogen and is the most common cause of acute sporadic encephalitis in humans. This virus is characterized by establishing a persistent latent infection in neurons of its hosts for life. The pathogenic mechanisms of HSV‐1 at the central nervous system (CNS) are not completely elucidated. Besides, evidences suggest that HSV‐1 establish latency in the CNS in humans and that this condition would not be harmless, especially in people whose immune system is declined. This trait has been strongly suggested as a risk factor for the development of neurodegenerative pathologies such as Alzheimer's disease. Currently, it is unclear whether a neuron, which undergoes viral reactivation and produces infectious particles, survives and resumes latency, loses functionality, or is killed. These data highlight the need for more studies at cellular and molecular levels to understand the strategies used by the virus and the host cells during both productive and latent infection. The present chapter discusses the current investigations about HSV‐1 infection at the CNS and the potential risk of neuronal dysfunction and chronic neurological diseases.
Part of the book: Herpesviridae