herpes simplex virus therapy

Ian A. York york at mbcrr.dfci.harvard.edu
Fri Feb 10 13:38:11 EST 1995

>To Anyone:  My students tell me that lysine is used to treat "cold-sores". 
>Can anyone explain the mechanism of action against herpesviruses?

First, I don't think it works very well (disclaimer - I'm not a
clinician), and second, I don't think the mechanism of action is well
understood. Or understood at all, probably.  

Here are some references you might find helpful.  There don't seem to be 
any very recent ones (at least none that my quick Medline search turned up).

Griffith RS.  Walsh DE.  Myrmel KH.  Thompson RW.  Behforooz A.
Success of L-lysine therapy in frequently recurrent herpes simplex
infection. Treatment and prophylaxis.
Dermatologica.  175(4):183-90, 1987.

"The L-lysine treatment group had an average of 2.4 (p less than 0.05)
less HSV infections, symptoms were significantly (p less than 0.05)
diminished in severity and healing time was significantly reduced (p less
than 0.05). L-Lysine appears to be an effective agent for reduction of
occurrence, severity and healing time for recurrent HSV infection." 

Kagan C.
Failure of lysine?
Arch Dermatol.  121(1):21, 1985

McCune MA.  Perry HO.  Muller SA.  O'Fallon WM.
Treatment of recurrent herpes simplex infections with L-lysine
Cutis.  34(4):366-73, 1984

". . . oral ingestion of 1,248 mg a day of L-Lysine monohydrochloride
shows evidence of decreasing the recurrence rate of herpes simplex attacks
in nonimmunocompromised hosts. . . .  L-Lysine may also be capable of
decreasing the severity of symptoms associated with recurrences. Neither
dosage showed any evidence of shortening the healing time compared to

Walsh DE.  Griffith RS.  Behforooz A.
Subjective response to lysine in the therapy of herpes simplex.
J Antimicrob Chemother.  12(5):489-96, 1983

"Overall, 88% considered supplemental lysine an effective form of 
treatment for herpes infection."

DiGiovanna JJ.  Blank H.
Failure of lysine in frequently recurrent herpes simplex infection.
Treatment and prophylaxis. 
Arch Dermatol.  120(1):48-51, 1984

"We conclude that it is unlikely that lysine improves frequently recurrent
HS infections in the majority of patients." 

(I note that this study used a lower dose than the more positive ones - IY)

Ian York   (york at mbcrr.harvard.edu)
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney St., Boston MA 02115
Phone (617)-632-4328     Fax  (617)-632-2627

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