Persistence of herpes simplex virus type 1 DNA in chronic conjunctival and eyelid lesions of mice

David J Maggs, Ed Chang, Mark P. Nasisse, William J. Mitchell

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39 Scopus citations


Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) causes chronic blepharitis and conjunctivitis as well as keratitis in humans. The pathogenesis of these inflammatory ocular and dermal lesions is not well understood. We have examined the persistence of HSV-1 DNA and its relationship to inflammatory lesions in the conjunctiva and eyelid skin of mice which were inoculated with HSV-1 by the corneal route. Viral DNA was detected by in situ PCR in the conjunctiva and eyelid tissue of infected mice at 5, 11, 23, and 37 days postinfection (p.i.). This DNA was localized in the epithelial cells of the conjunctiva and hair follicles and in the epidermal cells of the eyelid skin. Viral proteins were not detected in the conjunctiva or the eyelid skin after 5 days p.i., even though histopathological lesions were found at 23 and 37 days p.i. in both tissues. The DNA-containing cells were adjacent to sites of inflammation in the chronic lesions in both the conjunctiva and the eyelid skin. A similar temporal and spatial relationship between HSV-1 DNA and inflammatory lesions has been previously reported for the cornea. Our data suggest that the lesions in the cornea, conjunctiva, and eyelid skin progress similarly. Further studies are required to determine whether the long-term presence of HSV-1 is involved in the mechanism by which these chronic inflammatory lesions develop. The presence of HSV-1 DNA in these extraocular tissues for extended periods may constitute persistent viral infection of nonneuronal cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9166-9172
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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