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J Virol. 1986 Apr;58(1):1-8.

Hepadnavirus infection of peripheral blood lymphocytes in vivo: woodchuck and chimpanzee models of viral hepatitis.


The peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) of five hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected chimpanzees and 17 woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV)-infected woodchucks were examined for the presence of viral DNA and RNA. HBV DNA was detected in the PBL of three of three chronically infected chimpanzees but in neither of two animals with acute HBV infection. WHV DNA was found in the PBL of 11 of 13 chronically infected woodchucks and in the PBL and bone marrow of 1 of 4 woodchucks with antibody to WHV surface antigen. Viral DNA in the PBL and bone marrow was episomal, primarily existing as multimers with some monomeric forms. Integrated HBV DNA was detected in the PBL of one chronically infected chimpanzee, but only for a brief period. Viral RNA was also detected in the PBL, although less frequently than was DNA. HBV RNA in chimpanzee PBL existed as 3.8- and 7.5-kilobase species, while 2.3- and 3.8-kilobase WHV RNA was found in woodchuck PBL. Subfractionation of PBL isolated from the chronically infected chimpanzees demonstrated that HBV DNA and RNA were located in B and T cells. No HBV DNA was detected in the macrophages. These results, along with the recent reports of HBV nucleic acids in the PBL of human patients, suggest that infection of PBL may be a general phenomenon associated with the pathology of hepadnaviruses.

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