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J Virol. 1996 Jan;70(1):101-7.

Viral replication is required for induction of ocular immunopathology by herpes simplex virus.

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Department of Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 37996, USA.


Corneal infection of BALB/c mice with herpes simplex virus type 1 results in a chronic inflammatory response in the stroma termed herpetic stromal keratitis (HSK). This disease is considered to be immunopathological and mediated primarily by CD4+ T cells of the type 1 cytokine profile. However, the nature of the antigens, virus or host derived, which drive the inflammatory response remains in doubt. In this study, the relevance of infection with replicating virus for the subsequent development of HSK was evaluated with immunocompetent mice as well as with SCID mice reconstituted with herpes simplex virus-immune CD4+ T cells. In the corneas of immunocompetent mice, infectious virus, viral antigen, and mRNA expression were detectable for only a brief period of time (< or = 7 days postinfection), and all were undetectable by the time clinical lesions were evident (10 to 15 days). Viral replication, however, was necessary for the development of HSK in both models, since infection with UV-inactivated virus or with mutant viruses which were incapable of multiple rounds of replication in vivo failed to induce HSK. The inactivated and mutant viral preparations did, however, stimulate T-cell immune responses in immunocompetent mice. The results are discussed in terms of possible involvement of host antigens exposed in response to transient progeny virion replication in the immune-privileged cornea.

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