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J Immunol. 1999 Mar 1;162(5):2895-905.

Macrophage control of herpes simplex virus type 1 replication in the peripheral nervous system.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL 60154, USA.


After corneal infection, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) invades sensory neurons with cell bodies in the trigeminal ganglion (TG), replicates briefly, and then establishes a latent infection in these neurons. HSV-1 replication in the TG can be detected as early as 2 days after corneal infection, reaches peak titers by 3-5 days after infection, and is undetectable by 7-10 days. During the period of HSV-1 replication, macrophages and gammadelta TCR+ T lymphocytes infiltrate the TG, and TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) enzyme, and IL-12 are expressed. TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, and the iNOS product nitric oxide (NO) all inhibit HSV-1 replication in vitro. Macrophage and gammadelta TCR+ T cell depletion studies demonstrated that macrophages are the main source of TNF-alpha and iNOS, whereas gammadelta TCR+ T cells produce IFN-gamma. Macrophage depletion, aminoguanidine inhibition of iNOS, and neutralization of TNF-alpha or IFN-gamma all individually and synergistically increased HSV-1 titers in the TG after HSV-1 corneal infection. Moreover, individually depleting macrophages or neutralizing TNF-alpha or IFN-gamma markedly reduced the accumulation of both macrophages and gammadelta TCR+ T cells in the TG. Our findings establish that after primary HSV-1 infection, the bulk of virus replication in the sensory ganglia is controlled by macrophages and gammadelta TCR+ T lymphocytes through their production of antiviral molecules TNF-alpha, NO, and IFN-gamma. Our findings also strongly suggest that cross-regulation between these two cell types is necessary for their accumulation and function in the infected TG.

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