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Acyclovir in the Treatment of Herpes Viruses – A Review


Katarzyna Klysik, Aneta Pietraszek, Anna Karewicz and Maria Nowakowska*   Pages 1 - 18 ( 18 )


Background: Herpes simplex (HSV) viruses are widely spread, highly contagious human pathogens. The statistics indicate that 50-90% of adults worldwide are seropositive for these viruses, mainly HSV-1 and HSV-2. The primary infection results in the appearance of watery blisters (cold sores) on the skin, lips, tongue, buccal mucosa or genitals. The ocular infection is the major cause of corneal blindness in the Western World. Once the HSV virus enters human body, it cannot be completely eradicated because HSV viruses are able to change into their latent form which can survive the treatment. The viron resides in trigeminal ganglia of the host, who becomes vulnerable to the reoccurrence of the disease during the whole lifespan. The neurotropic and neuro-invasive properties of HSV are responsible for neurodegenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer's disease. Acyclovir and its analogues, being the inhibitors of the viral DNA replication, are the only approved medicines for HSV infection therapies.

Objective: The current paper presents the up-to-date overview of the important pharmacological features of acyclovir, its analogues and their delivery systems including the mechanism of action, routes of administration, absorption and metabolism, as well as side effects of the therapy.

Conclusion: Acyclovir remains the gold standard in the treatment of herpes virus infections, mainly due to the emerging of the new delivery systems improving considerably its bioavailability. The analogues of acyclovir, especially their esters, characterized by significantly higher bioavailability and safety, may gradually replace acyclovir in selected applications.


acyclovir, herpes simplex virus, acyclovir analogue, acyclovir ester, delivery system, route of administration, mechanism of action


Jagiellonian University - Faculty of Chemistry Krakow, Jagiellonian University - Faculty of Chemistry Krakow, Jagiellonian University - Faculty of Chemistry Krakow, Jagiellonian University - Faculty of Chemistry Krakow

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