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Obstet Gynecol. 1996 Oct;88(4 Pt 2):687-9.

Detection of varicella-zoster virus in congenital varicella syndrome: a case report.

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  • 1Institute for Antiviral Chemotherapy, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Erfurt, Germany.



We studied the possibility of detecting varicella-zoster virus in formalin-fixed tissue samples from a still-born infant with congenital anomalies in order to verify the relationship with maternal varicella.


A girl with hypoplasia of extremities, skin lesions, and microphthalmos was stillborn at 34 weeks' gestation. Her mother had had chickenpox between the 13th and 15th gestational weeks. Varicella-zoster virus DNA could be detected in formalin-fixed tissue samples of lungs, spleen, adrenal glands, bulbus oculi, and placenta by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The method, with the use of primers from gene 29 encoding the major DNA-binding protein, proved to be highly sensitive. In addition, varicella-zoster virus DNA/antigens were localized in some organs by in situ hybridization/monoclonal antibodies.


The PCR method should be included in the diagnosis of congenital varicella syndrome. The varicella-zoster virus can be detected in formalin-fixed tissue samples using this technique.

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