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Pathology of the human spinal ganglia in varicella-zoster virus infection

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Summary

Spinal ganglia from a patient who died on the 6th day of varicella infection were examined by immunofluorescence and electron microscopy, and were compared with spinal ganglia from a patient dying on the 17th day of herpes zoster infection. In herpes zoster, typical intranuclear inclusion bodies were found in neurons, satellite cells and fibroblast-like cells of the ganglia, which contained numerous naked virus particles. In varicella, few changes were found by light microscopy but viral antigen was detected in a few neurons and satellite cells by immunofluorescence. Electron microscopy revealed scattered virus particles near the nuclear membrane of a neuron, satellite cells and capsular cells and enveloped particles in the cytoplasma of satellite cells. The particles in the nuclei were mostly naked virions with specific crescent-like inner-nuclear structure; those in the cytoplasm had complete and incomplete envelopes and showed pleomorphism. A “virus-like” intranuclear filament found in mononuclear cells in herpes zoster and a “plexiform vermicellar array” found in the nuclei of neurons in varicella are at present considered to be non-specific nuclear changes caused probably by viral infections.

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Nagashima, K., Nakazawa, M., Endo, H. et al. Pathology of the human spinal ganglia in varicella-zoster virus infection. Acta Neuropathol 33, 105–117 (1975). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00687537

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Key words

  • Varicella, Herpes Zoster
  • Human Spinal Ganglia
  • Immunofluorescence, Electron Microscopy