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J Neuroimmunol. 2008 Jun 15;197(1):37-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2008.03.011. Epub 2008 May 20.

Chemical sympathectomy increases susceptibility to ocular herpes simplex virus type 1 infection.

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Department of Biology, Cameron University, Lawton, OK, USA.


The cornea is one of the most highly innervated tissues in the mammalian host. We hypothesized changes to cornea innervation through chemical sympathectomy would significantly alter the host response to the neurotropic viral pathogen, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) following ocular infection. Mice treated with 6-hydroxydopamine hydrobromide displayed reduced tyrosine hydroxylase-positive fibers residing in the cornea. Sympathectomized mice were also found to show a transient rise in virus recovered in infected tissues and succumbed to infection in greater numbers. Whereas there were no differences in infiltrating leukocyte populations including HSV-1-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes in the infected tissue, an increase in substance P and a decrease in IFN-gamma levels in the trigeminal ganglion but not brain stem of sympathectomized mice were noted. Sympathectomized mice treated with the neurokinin-1 receptor antagonist L703,606 had delayed mortality implicating the involvement of substance P in HSV-1-mediated death.

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