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J Virol. 1989 Mar;63(3):1360-70.

Natural history of woodchuck hepatitis virus infections during the course of experimental viral infection: molecular virologic features of the liver and lymphoid tissues.

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  • 1Georgetown University Medical Center, Division of Molecular Virology and Immunology, Rockville, Maryland 20852.


In this study, the kinetic patterns of woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV) infection were monitored in the liver and the five primary components of the lymphoid system (peripheral blood lymphocytes, lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, and thymus). Groups of woodchucks experimentally infected with a standardized inoculum of WHV were sacrificed at different times over a 65-week period beginning in the preacute phase of viral infection and continuing to the period of serologic recovery or the establishment of chronic infections and subsequent hepatocellular carcinoma. Infection by WHV was not limited to the liver but involved the major components of the lymphoid system during all stages of virus infection. A complex series of kinetic patterns was observed for the appearance of WHV DNA in the different lymphoid compartments and the liver during the entire course of viral infection. A progressive evolution of different WHV genomic forms related to the replicative state of WHV was also observed. Lymphoid cells of the bone marrow were the first cells in which WHV DNA was detected, followed in order by the liver, the spleen, peripheral blood lymphocytes, lymph nodes, and finally the thymus. Several differences were observed in the cellular WHV DNA patterns between woodchucks that developed chronic WHV infections and those that serologically recovered from acute WHV infections. The observations compiled in this study indicate that the host lymphoid system is intimately involved in the natural history of hepadnavirus infections from the earliest stages of virus entry.

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