Dexamethasone-induced reactivation of bovine herpesvirus type 5 latent infection in experimentally infected rabbits results in a broader distribution of latent viral DNA in the brain

S. V. Mayer, V. L. de Quadros, F. S F Vogel, E. R. Winkelmann, S. Arenhart, R. Weiblen, E. F. Flores

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15 Scopus citations


Bovine herpesvirus type 5 (BHV-5) is a major agent of meningoencephalitis in cattle and establishes latent infections mainly in sensory nerve ganglia. The distribution of latent BHV-5 DNA in the brain of rabbits prior to and after virus reactivation was studied using a nested PCR. Fifteen rabbits inoculated intranasally with BHV-5 were euthanized 60 days post-inoculation (group A, N = 8) or submitted to dexamethasone treatment (2.6 mg kg-1 day-1, im, for 5 days) and euthanized 60 days later (group B, N = 7) for tissue examination. Two groups of BHV-1-infected rabbits (C, N = 3 and D, N = 3) submitted to each treatment were used as controls. Viral DNA of group A rabbits was consistently detected in trigeminal ganglia (8/8), frequently in cerebellum (5/8), anterior cerebral cortex and pons-medulla (3/8) and occasionally in dorsolateral (2/8), ventrolateral and posterior cerebral cortices, midbrain and thalamus (1/8). Viral DNA of group B rabbits showed a broader distribution, being detected at higher frequency in ventrolateral (6/7) and posterior cerebral cortices (5/7), pons-medulla (6/7), thalamus (4/7), and midbrain (3/7). In contrast, rabbits inoculated with BHV-1 harbored viral DNA almost completely restricted to trigeminal ganglia and the distribution did not change post-reactivation. These results demonstrate that latency by BHV-5 is established in several areas of the rabbit's brain and that virus reactivation leads to a broader distribution of latent viral DNA. Spread of virus from trigeminal ganglia and other areas of the brain likely contributes to this dissemination and may contribute to the recrudescence of neurological disease frequently observed upon BHV-5 reactivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-343
Number of pages9
JournalBrazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes



  • BHV-1
  • BHV-5
  • Bovine herpesvirus type 5
  • Brain
  • Latent infection
  • Rabbits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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