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Arch Virol. 1995;140(11):2055-66.

Detection of latent varicella zoster virus DNA and human gene sequences in human trigeminal ganglia by in situ amplification combined with in situ hybridization.

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Institute of Bacteriology, National Hospital, University of Oslo, Norway.


Varicella zoster virus (VZV) establishes latency in sensory ganglia following primary infection (chickenpox) and may reactivate decades later to produce zoster (shingles). The presence of VZV DNA in latently infected ganglia has been demonstrated by Southern blot hybridization as well as by polymerase chain reaction of DNA extracted from latently infected ganglia. Conflicting results have been obtained by in situ hybridization studies to determine the cell type in the ganglia harboring the latent VZV. To address this controversy we have utilized a more sensitive method than the previous studies. We have applied the technique of polymerase chain reaction to sections of ganglia from latently infected individuals and combined this with in situ hybridization to detect the amplified product. Primers specific for VZV were used to amplify VZV DNA in latently infected human trigeminal ganglia and demonstrated the presence of VZV DNA in neurons only. Sections from human kidney and ganglia from neonates as well as monkey ganglia served as controls and did not show amplification of VZV sequences. Amplification using primers for human genes, alpha tubulin and the oncogene Bcl-2, demonstrated the presence of these sequences in nearly all cells in the human tissues while only weak signals were seen in the monkey tissue. This is the first report where in situ amplification has been utilized to detect latent VZV in human ganglia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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