Abstract Background Varicella zoster virus (VZV) can present as a myelopathy with spinal astrocyte infection. Recent studies support a role for the neurokinin-1 receptor (NK-1R) in virus infections, as well as for cytoskeletal alterations that may promote viral spread. Thus, we examined the role of NK-1R in VZV-infected primary human spinal astrocytes (HA-sps) to shed light on the pathogenesis of VZV myelopathy. Methods Mock- and VZV-infected HA-sps were examined for substance P (subP) production, NK-1R localization, morphological changes and viral spread in the presence or absence of NK-1R antagonists, aprepitant and rolapitant. Results VZV infection of HA-sps induced nuclear localization of full-length and truncated NK-1R in the absence of the endogenous ligand, subP, and was associated with extensive lamellipodia formation and viral spread that was inhibited by NK-1R antagonists. Conclusions We have identified a novel, subP-independent, proviral function of nuclear NK-1R associated with lamellipodia formation and viral spread that is distinct from subP-induced NK-1R cell membrane/cytoplasmic localization without lamellipodia formation. These results suggest that binding of a putative viral ligand to NK-1R produces a dramatically different NK-1R downstream effect than binding of subP. Finally, NK-1R antagonists aprepitant and rolapitant provide promising alternatives to nucleoside analogs in treating VZV infections, including myelopathy. Varicella zoster virus, myelopathy, astrocytes, neurokinin-1 receptor, lamellipodia, aprepitant, rolapitant © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
The Journal of Infectious Diseases – Oxford University Press
Published: May 19, 2018
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