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Recovery of Immune Control Over Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 in Female Victims of Intimate Partner Violence

Sanchez-Lorente, Segunda PhD; Blasco-Ros, Concepcion BA; Coe, Christopher L. PhD; Martinez, Manuela MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181c5080a
Original Articles

Objectives: To assess the course of immune control over Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) through three salivary measures: neutralization of HSV-1, levels of specific antibody against HSV-1 (HSV-1-sIgA) and total immunoglobulin A (total sIgA), and to determine the factors that contribute to its recovery or deterioration. Several studies have demonstrated that intimate partner violence (IPV) affects immune responses in women, but none have investigated the impact longitudinally over time.

Methods: Women (n = 60), who participated in our previous cross-sectional study (T-1) and who had been either physically/psychologically (n = 22) or psychologically abused (n = 14) by their partners, were evaluated 3 years later (T-2). A control group of women (n = 24) was included for comparison. Saliva samples were collected twice a day (8 AM–9 AM, and 8 PM–9 PM) on 2 days spaced 2 weeks apart. Information about psychological and lifestyle variables was obtained by structured interviews.

Results: Physically/psychologically abused women had a significant improvement in both the capacity to neutralize HSV-1 and HSV-sIgA levels, and at T-2 the capacity of their saliva to inhibit virus was no longer different from the other two groups. Regression analysis indicated that the cessation of physical IPV was the main predictor of this recovery.

Conclusions: This study shows that recovery of immune control over HSV-1 is possible in women who had been exposed to physical/psychological IPV despite an initially low antiviral capacity. Other longitudinal studies are needed to determine which factors best predict the restoration of physical and emotional well-being in order to design more effective intervention programs.

ATCC = American Type Culture Collection; ANOVA = analysis of variance; CPE = cytopathologic effects; HSV-1 = Herpes simplex virus type 1; HSV-1-sIgA = specific antibody against Herpes simplex virus type 1; IgA = immunoglobulin A; IPV = intimate partner violence; sIgA = secretory immunoglobulin A.

From the Department of Psychobiology (S.S.-L., C.B.-R., M.M.), Faculty of Psychology, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain; and the Department of Psychology (C.L.C.), University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Manuela Martinez, Department of Psychobiology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Valencia, Avda Blasco Ibañez, 21, 46010 Valencia, Spain. E-mail:

Received for publication June 24, 2009; revision received August 26, 2009.

All authors were supported by the Institute of the Woman, Ministry of Equality (ref: 102/01), FEDER, and the Ministry of Science and Innovation (ref: SEJ2005-00579/PSIC). M.M. received support from the Conselleria D’Empresa, Universitat i Ciencia, Generalitat Valenciana (GRUPOS2004/15).

Copyright © 2010 by American Psychosomatic Society
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