OBJECTIVE: Serological evaluation of herpes simplex virus infections during pregnancy. METHODS: 2991 serum samples were obtained during 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester from 997 pregnant women. Baculovirus expressed glycoproteins gG1 (HSV-1) and gG2 (HSV-2) were used as antigens in ELISA for HSV-1 and HSV-2 IgG and IgA antibodies. RESULTS: The prevalence of HSV-1 gG1 antibodies was 70% and that of HSV-2 gG2 antibodies 16%. Among susceptible women we found five (0.6%) cases with serological evidence of primary HSV-2 infection during pregnancy. Evidence of active HSV-1 infection was found in nine (0.9%) cases. Decline of HSV-2 gG2 IgG antibody levels during pregnancy was pronounced compared with HSV-1 gG1 IgG antibody levels (p < 0.01); also the proportion of seroreversions was considerably higher among HSV-2 seropositives (25%) than among HSV-1 seropositives (3%) (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: HSV-2 gG2 IgG antibodies were readily distinguished from HSV-1 gG1 IgG antibodies by the glycoprotein gG ELISAs. Serological assays for gG2 antibodies should guard against the decline of specific antibodies during pregnancy.
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