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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-8413

Linder, T; Bossart, W; Bodmer, D (2005). Bell's palsy and Herpes simplex virus: fact or mystery? Otology and Neurotology, 26(1):109-113.

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HYPOTHESIS AND BACKGROUND: In recent years, progress has been made in the understanding of Bell's palsy, the most common form of acute facial weakness. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) reactivation within the geniculate ganglion with subsequent inflammation and entrapment of the nerve at the meatal foramen has been proposed to be the pathogenetic mechanism. We challenged its accuracy by analyzing our own data on the presence of viral genomic DNA of HSV-1 and 2, human herpes virus (HHV)-6A/B, as well as varizella zoster virus (VZV) in patients with Bell's palsy and in control patients without the disease. METHODS: Polymerase chain reaction was performed with primer sets specific for viral genomic DNA of HSV-1, HSV-2, and VZV in facial muscle biopsy specimens from patients with Bell's palsy. As control specimens, the Scarpa's ganglion of patients with Meniere's disease and the geniculate ganglion harvested at autopsy from patients without history of facial palsy. In a second study, we used polymerase chain reaction with primers specific for HSV-1, -2, and HHV-6A, -6B to analyze for the presence of these viruses in tear fluid samples from control patients and patients with acute Bell's palsy. RESULTS: HSV-1 and VZV genomic DNA were detected in 86 and 43%, respectively, of geniculate ganglion preparations from control specimen. We were not able to detect the presence of HSV-1, HSV-2, or VZV genomic DNA in ganglion scarpae or muscle biopsy results in control and Bell's palsy patients. HHV-6A could be detected in tear fluid samples in 40% of control patients and 30% of Bell's palsy patients. CONCLUSIONS: The sole presence of HSV genomic DNA within the sensory ganglion along the facial nerve does not explain the direct association with Bell's palsy. The missing link would be the identification of an active replicating virus, an investigation that has not yet been carried out.


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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Otorhinolaryngology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Date:January 2005
Deposited On:30 Mar 2009 07:41
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:43
Publisher:Lippincott Wiliams & Wilkins
Publisher DOI:10.1097/00129492-200501000-00020
PubMed ID:15699730

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