The polymerase chain reaction method (PCR) was used to investigate events in the pathogenesis of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection in strain 2, Hartley, and euthymic hairless guinea pigs. VZV was detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) obtained 2-5 days after infection in 8 (50%) of 16 strain 2, 4 (40%) of 10 hairless, and 10 (34%) of 29 Hartley guinea pigs. The frequency of VZV-infected PBMC was estimated to be at least 1/200,000, which is comparable to that observed in human infection. When VZV PCR was used to test ganglia from hairless guinea pigs, samples from 6 of 8 animals were positive. Of 45 VZV-infected guinea pigs that were tested for cellular immunity by VZV T lymphocyte proliferation assay, 44 developed a stimulation index > 2.0. Control animals had no detectable virus by PCR and did not develop cellular immunity to VZV. These experiments showed that viremia was detectable by PCR during primary VZV infection of guinea pigs in about half of the animals regardless of the strain of guinea pig. Acquisition of cellular immunity provided a consistent marker of infection in all guinea pig strains. PCR was also useful for demonstrating VZV in guinea pig ganglia tissue, with VZV gene sequences being detectable for at least 80 days after infection. With the combination of PCR and immunologic assays, various guinea pig strains should be useful for studies of VZV pathogenesis and for the evaluation of antiviral agents and vaccine strategies.
View details for Web of Science ID A1993KE84600012
View details for PubMedID 8380293