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J Virol Methods. 2003 Apr;109(1):1-9.

Human cytomegalovirus infection in human renal arteries in vitro.

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Abteilung Virologie, Institut fur Mikrobiologie, Universit├Ątsklinikum Ulm, Albert-Einstein-Allee 11, 89081 Ulm, Germany.


Studies with animal cytomegaloviruses, epidemiological data from humans as well as in vitro studies suggest the involvement of the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) in the development of atherosclerosis. Cell culture systems are insufficient for examination of the entire pathogenetic process and a satisfactory animal model for HCMV is not available. An organ culture model was established for HCMV infection of human renal arteries in vitro. After infection with three representative HCMV strains, infectious virus was recovered from supernatants until 144 days post-infection with a peak around day 30 due to a long-lasting productive HCMV infection in still vital cells. Differences in cell tropism and kinetics of infection were identified between the HCMV strains. Specifically, differences in infecting endothelial cells and virus penetration into the lamina media were observed. In infected artery segments, but also in some non-infected arteries from seropositive donors, HCMV DNA could be localized by in situ PCR. Nevertheless, HCMV early antigen was detected by immunohistochemistry exclusively in artery segments infected in vitro. The new organ culture model will permit the study of functional and molecular consequences of HCMV infection in a more physiological micro-environment.

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