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Virology. 1990 Dec;179(2):834-44.

Varicella-zoster virus infection of human astrocytes, Schwann cells, and neurons.

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Section on Molecular Virology and Genetics, NINDS, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Human fetal cell cultures enriched for astrocytes, Schwann cells, or dorsal root ganglia neurons were infected with cell-free varicella-zoster virus (VZV), and the course of these infections was compared with that in fetal fibroblasts. Virus replication was detected in each neural cell type as early as 10-16 hr postinfection. Permissiveness of each cell type was confirmed by electron microscopy. However, the kinetics of virus spread varied between the neural cell types. Moreover, the accumulation, progression, and localization of VZV putative immediate early (IE), early (E), and late proteins was neural cell-type specific. VZV replication was slower in Schwann cells and neurons than in astrocytes. In Schwann cells and neurons VZV E proteins could be detected before IE proteins, a reversal of the order of accumulation noted with astrocytes and fibroblasts. There was also relatively more VZV IE protein in the perinuclear cytoplasm of Schwann cells and neurons, suggesting a delay in the transport of this antigen to its nuclear site. The permissiveness of non-neuronal cell types suggests that they could play a role in the pathogenesis of herpes zoster.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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