Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

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

  • 48 Accesses

  • 38 Citations


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Aoyama, Y.: Herpes group viruses. From Fluorescent Antibody Techniques and their Application. A. Kawamura ed. Tokyo-Baltimore-Manchester: University of Tokyo Press and University Park Press 1969

  2. Baringer, J. R., Swoveland, P.: Recovery of herpes-simplex virus from human trigeminal ganglions. New Engl. J. Med.288, 648–650 (1973)

  3. Baringer, J. R., Swoveland, P.: Persistent herpes simplex virus infection in rabbit trigeminal ganglia. Lab. Invest.30, 230–240 (1974)

  4. Baringer, J. R.: Recovery of herpes simplex virus from human sacral ganglions. New Engl. J. Med.291, 828–830 (1974)

  5. Bedoya, V., Rabson, A. S., Grimley, P. A.: Growth in vitro of herpes simplex virus in human lymphoma cell lines. J. nat. Cancer Inst.41, 635–652 (1968)

  6. Bedoya, V.: Effect of chloroquine on malignant lymphoreticular and pigmented cells in vitro. Cancer Res.30, 1262–1275 (1970)

  7. Blinzinger, K., Anzil, A. P., Jellinger, K.: On so-called “virus-like” intranuclear filaments in brain autopsy material: A reappraisal on hand of two fetal cases of tick-borne encephalitis. Acta neuropath. (Berl.)28, 69–73 (1974)

  8. Buja, L. M., Ferrans, V. J., Rabson, A. S.: Unusual nuclear alterations. Lancet1974 I 402–403

  9. Cheatham, W. J., Weller, T. H., Dolan, T. F., Dower, J. C.: Varicella: report of two fatal cases with necropsy, virus isolation and serologic studies. Amer. J. Path.32, 1015–1035 (1956)

  10. Cook, M. L., Stevens, J. G.: Labile coat: Reason for noninfectious cell-free varicella-zoster virus in culture. J. Virol.2, 1458–1464 (1968)

  11. Dohi, J., Ota, Y., Amano, F.: Electron microscopic study of viral diseases. Jap. J. Derm.71, 642–650 (1961)

  12. Dubois-Dalcq, M., Schumacher, G., Sever, J. L.: Acute multiple sclerosis: electron microscopic evidence for and against a viral agent in the plaques. Lancet1973 II, 1408–1411

  13. Esiri, M. M., Tomlinson, A. H.: Herpes zoster. Demonstration of virus in trigeminal nerve and ganglion by immunofluorescence and electron microscopy. J. neurol. Sci.15, 35–48 (1972)

  14. Ghatak, N. R., Zimmerman, H. M.: Spinal ganglion in herpes zoster. Arch. Path.95, 411–415 (1973)

  15. Hasegawa, T.: Further electron microscopic observations of herpes zoster virus. Arch. Derm.103, 45–49 (1971)

  16. Ikuta, F., Kumanishi, T.: Experimental virus-induced brain tumors. From Progress in Neuropathology, Vol. II. New York-London: Grune & Stratton 1973

  17. Johnson, H. V.: Visceral lesions associated with varicella. Arch. Path.30, 292–307 (1940)

  18. Kimura, A., Tosaka, K., Nakao, T.: An electron microscopic study of varicella skin lesions. Arch. Virusforsch.36, 1–12 (1972)

  19. McCormick, W. F., Rodnitzky, R. L., Schochet, S. S., McKee, A. P.: Varicella-zoster encephalomyelitis. A morphologic and virologic study. Arch. Neurol. (Chic.)21, 559–570 (1969)

  20. Nagashima, K., Oota, K.: A histopathological study of the human spinal ganglia. 1. Normal variations in aging. Acta path. Jap.24, 333–344 (1974)

  21. Nagashima, K., Sakakibara, K.: An autopsy case of mucolipidosis II (I-cell diesase) (To be published)

  22. Narang, H. K., Field, E. J.: Paramyxovirus like tubules in multiple sclerosis biopsy material. Acta neuropath. (Berl.)25, 281–290 (1973)

  23. Netter, R.: Varicella-herpes zoster: Virological features. From Clinical Virology: The evaluation and management of human viral infections. R. Debré and Celers, eds. Philadelphia-London-Toronto: Saunders 1970

  24. Nii, S.: Comparative ultrastructural studies on the cores of herpes simplex and varicellazoster virus. Biken J.14, 425–430 (1971)

  25. Nii, S.: Aberrant forms of varicella-zoster virus. Biken J.16, 173–176 1973

  26. Prineas, J.: Paramyxovirus-like particles associated with acute demyelination in chronic relapsing multiple sclerosis. Science178, 760–762 (1972)

  27. Raine, C., Powers, J. M., Suzuki, K.: Acute multiple sclerosis. Arch. Neurol. (Chic.)30, 39–46 (1974)

  28. Schaumburg, H. H., Powers, J. M., Suzuki, K., Raine, C. S.: Adrenoleukodystrophy (Sexlinked Schilder disease). Arch. Neurol. (Chic.)31, 210–213 (1974)

  29. Shibuta, H. H., Ishikawa, T., Hondo, R., Aoyama, Y., Kurata, K., Matsumoto, M. Varicella virus isolation from spinal ganglion. Brief report. Arch. Virusforsch.45, 382–385 (1974)

  30. Stevens, J. G., Cook, M. L.: Latent herpes simplex virus in spinal ganglia in mice. Science173, 843–845 (1971)

  31. Swanson, J. L., Craighead, J. E., Reynolds, E. S.: Electron microscopic observations on herpesvirus hominis (herpes simplex virus) encephalitis in man. Lab. Invest.15, 1966–1981 (1966)

  32. Taylor-Robinson, D., Caunt, A. E.: Varicella virus. From Virology Monographs 12. Wien-New York: Springer 1972

  33. Watanabe, I., Okazaki, H.: Virus-like structure in multiple sclerosis. Lancet1973II, 569–570

  34. Weller, T. H.: Varicella-herpes zoster virus. From Viral and Rickettsial Infections of Man. 4th ed. F. L. Horsfall and I. Tamm, eds. Philadelphia-Montreal: Lippincott 1965

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

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

Download citation

Key words

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