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J Med Virol. 2003;70 Suppl 1:S71-8.

Latent and lytic infection of isolated guinea pig enteric ganglia by varicella zoster virus.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Columbia University of Physicians and Surgeons, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Varicella zoster virus (VZV) has been demonstrated to infect guinea pig enteric neurons in vitro. Latent infection of isolated enteric neurons is established when the cultures predominantly consist of neurons and they are exposed to cell-free VZV. Neurons harboring latent infection survive for weeks in vitro and express mRNA encoding ORFs 4, 21, 29, 40, 62, and 63, but not 14(gC) or 68 (gE) (although DNA encoding the glycoproteins is present). The expressed proteins are the same as those that are also expressed in human sensory neurons harboring latent VZV. In addition to mRNA, the immunoreactivities of ORFs 4, 21, 29, 62, and 63 can be detected. ORF 62 and 29 proteins are cytoplasmic and not intranuclear. VZV does not preferentially infect and/or become latent in intrinsic enteric primary afferent neurons indicating that the virus is latent in these neurons. Lytic infection occurs when mixed cultures of neurons and non-neuronal cells of the bowel wall are exposed to cell-free VZV or when isolated enteric neurons are exposed to cell-associated VZV. When lytic infection occurs, enteric neurons die within 48 hr. Prior to their death, neurons express VZV glycoproteins, including gE and gB, and ORF 62 and 29 proteins are intranuclear. This new animal model should facilitate studies of VZV latency and the efficacy of therapies designed to prevent VZV infection, latency, and reactivation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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