Variations in the Clinical Course of Patients with Herpes Simplex Virus Esophagitis Based on Immunocompetence and Presence of Underlying Esophageal Disease

  • Patrick Hoversten
  • Amrit K. Kamboj
  • Tsung-Teh Wu
  • David A. KatzkaEmail author
Original Article


Background and Aims

Herpes simplex esophagitis (HSE) is the second most common cause of infectious esophagitis and occurs in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised patients. The aim of this study was to reappraise the clinical course of HSE in different patient populations based on degree of immunocompetence and the presence or absence of underlying esophageal disease.


Patients with histopathologically confirmed HSE identified from the Mayo Clinic pathology database from 2006 to 2016 were included in this study. Relevant demographic, clinical, and endoscopic data were retrospectively reviewed and compared between two cohorts: (a) immunocompromised and immunocompetent patients and (b) patients with and without underlying esophageal disorders.


Forty-six patients were included in the study. The most common presenting symptoms were odynophagia (34.8%) and dysphagia (30.4%). Thirty-three (71.7%) patients were immunocompromised, and these patients who experienced longer duration of symptoms (25.5 ± 23.4 days vs. 7.0 ± 5.5 days, p = 0.04) were more likely to require an extension of treatment course (38.1% vs. 8.3%, p = 0.05) compared to their immunocompetent counterparts. Seventeen (37%) patients had underlying esophageal disease, and these patients were more likely to have concomitant esophageal candidiasis (41.2% vs. 10.3%, respectively; p = 0.01).


Herpes simplex virus causes esophagitis in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised patients. While the disease course appears to be self-limited for all patient populations, clinical and endoscopic differences in the disease presentation and clinical course based on immune status and the presence or absence of underlying esophageal disease exist.


Esophagitis HSV Immunodeficiency Endoscopy 



Herpes simplex virus


Herpes simplex esophagitis


Human immunodeficiency virus


Gastroesophageal reflux disease


Eosinophilic esophagitis





David A. Katzka: Research support Shire, Advisory Board Celgene.

Author’s contribution

All authors contributed substantially to the work (PH—data abstraction, analysis, and manuscript drafting; AKK—data abstraction, analysis, and manuscript drafting; TTW—data abstraction and manuscript drafting; DAK—conception of the study, data analysis, manuscript drafting and critical review of manuscript) and approve the final version of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Financial conflicts of interest are outlined in manuscript. With the exception of DAK, no authors have any relevant disclosures.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Hoversten
    • 1
  • Amrit K. Kamboj
    • 1
  • Tsung-Teh Wu
    • 2
  • David A. Katzka
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Internal MedicineMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Division of Anatomic PathologyMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Division of Gastroenterology and HepatologyMayo ClinicRochesterUSA

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