The majority of the human population has been infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). During a typical primary episode, HSV-1 spreads from the oral pharynx to the trigeminal ganglia, where a latent HSV-1 infection is established. Cold sores at the mucocutaneous junction of the lip are the typical manifestation of recurrent HSV-1. We investigated whether HSV-1 also infects the brain during the primary infection. We used HSV-1 infected BALB/c mice and inbred cotton rats as models. While both species were susceptible to HSV-1 infection, the time course of lesion formation and healing in the cotton rat more closely reflected that seen in humans. In both species, HSV-1 replicated in the brainstem and cerebellum, as well as the trigeminal ganglia during a primary infection of the lip. The brain infection was produced by a low inoculation dose, and did not cause observable neurologic signs or mortality. Using PCR and RT-PCR techniques, we demonstrated HSV-1 thymidine kinase in the absence of infectivity in the brains of both species 30–40 days after primary infection.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 1, 2002
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