Persistence and reactivation of bovine herpesvirus 1 in the tonsils of latently infected calves

M. T.C. Winkler, A. Doster, C. Jones

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146 Scopus citations


Bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1), like other members of the Alphaherpesvirinae subfamily, establishes latent infection in sensory neurons. Reactivation from latency can occur after natural or corticosteroid- induced stress culminating in recurrent disease and/or virus transmission to uninfected animals. Our previous results concluded that CD4+ T cells in the tonsil and other adjacent lymph nodes are infected and undergo apoptosis during acute infection (M. T. Winkler, A. Doster, and C. Jones, J. Virol. 73:8657-8668, 1999). To test whether BHV-1 persisted in lymphoreticular tissue, we analyzed tonsils of latently infected calves for the presence of viral DNA and gene expression. BHV-1 DNA was consistently detected in the tonsils of latently infected calves. Detection of the latency-related transcript (LRT) in tonsils of latently infected calves required nested reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) suggesting that only a few cells contained viral DNA or that LRT is not an abundant transcript, bICP0 (immediate-early and early transcripts), ribonucleotide reductase (early transcript), and glycoprotein C (late transcript) were not detected by RT-PCR in latently infected calves. When reactivation was initiated by dexamethasone, bICP0 and ribonucleotide reductase transcripts were detected. Following dexamethasone treatment, viral nucleic acid was detected simultaneously in trigeminal ganglionic neurons and lymphoid follicles of tonsil. LRT was detected at 6 and 24 h after dexamethasone treatment but not at 48 h. Dexamethasone-induced reactivation led to apoptosis that was localized to tonsillar lymphoid follicles. Taken together, these findings suggest that the tonsil is a site for persistence or latency from which virus can be reactivated by dexamethasone. We further hypothesize that the shedding of virus from the tonsil during reactivation plays a role in virus transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5337-5346
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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