Primary simian varicella virus (SVV) infection in non-human primates causes varicella, after which the virus becomes latent in ganglionic neurons and reactivates to cause zoster. The host response in ganglia during establishment of latency is ill-defined. Ganglia from five African green monkeys (AGMs) obtained at 9, 13, and 20 days post-intratracheal SVV inoculation (dpi) were analyzed by ex vivo flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridization. Ganglia at 13 and 20 dpi exhibited mild inflammation. Immune infiltrates consisted mostly of CD8dim and CD8bright memory T cells, some of which expressed granzyme B, and fewer CD11c+ and CD68+ cells. Chemoattractant CXCL10 transcripts were expressed in neurons and infiltrating inflammatory cells but did not co-localize with SVV open reading frame 63 (ORF63) RNA expression. Satellite glial cells expressed increased levels of activation markers CD68 and MHC class II at 13 and 20 dpi compared to those at 9 dpi. Overall, local immune responses emerged as viral DNA load in ganglia declined, suggesting that intra-ganglionic immunity contributes to restricting SVV replication.

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Journal of NeuroVirology
Department of Virology

Ouwendijk, W., Getu, S., Mahalingam, R., Gilden, D., Osterhaus, A., & Verjans, G. (2016). Characterization of the immune response in ganglia after primary simian varicella virus infection. Journal of NeuroVirology, 22(3), 376–388. doi:10.1007/s13365-015-0408-1