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Nature. 1983 Dec 1-7;306(5942):478-80.

Varicella-zoster virus DNA in human sensory ganglia.


Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes chickenpox and shingles. Clinical and epidemiological evidence indicates that following an episode of childhood chickenpox (varicella), VZV becomes latent, presumably in dorsal root ganglia, and is reactivated many years later to produce shingles (zoster) in adults. VZV has been demonstrated in ganglia by electron microscopy and by indirect immunofluorescence, and infectious viral particles have been isolated from acutely infected ganglia of patients who died of disseminated VZV infection. However, VZV has not been detected in the ganglia of humans without recent exposure to VZV. Tissue culture explant methods that have been successful in the isolation of herpes simplex virus from ganglia have so far failed in the isolation or reactivation of VZV from trigeminal and other dorsal root ganglia. We describe here the detection of VZV DNA sequences in an acutely infected human sacral ganglion and in normal trigeminal ganglia. These findings support the hypothesis that VZV is latent in normal human ganglia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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