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Viruses 2019, 11(2), 103;

Current In Vitro Models to Study Varicella Zoster Virus Latency and Reactivation

Department of Neurology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO 80045, USA
Institute of Virology, Hannover Medical School, 30625 Hannover, Germany
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 November 2018 / Revised: 16 January 2019 / Accepted: 23 January 2019 / Published: 26 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Varicella Zoster Virus)
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Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a highly prevalent human pathogen that causes varicella (chicken pox) during primary infection and establishes latency in peripheral neurons. Symptomatic reactivation often presents as zoster (shingles), but it has also been linked to life-threatening diseases such as encephalitis, vasculopathy and meningitis. Zoster may be followed by postherpetic neuralgia, neuropathic pain lasting after resolution of the rash. The mechanisms of varicella zoster virus (VZV) latency and reactivation are not well characterized. This is in part due to the human-specific nature of VZV that precludes the use of most animal and animal-derived neuronal models. Recently, in vitro models of VZV latency and reactivation using human neurons derived from stem cells have been established facilitating an understanding of the mechanisms leading to VZV latency and reactivation. From the models, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and nerve growth factor (NGF) have all been implicated as potential modulators of VZV latency/reactivation. Additionally, it was shown that the vaccine-strain of VZV is impaired for reactivation. These models may also aid in the generation of prophylactic and therapeutic strategies to treat VZV-associated pathologies. This review summarizes and analyzes the current human neuronal models used to study VZV latency and reactivation, and provides some strategies for their improvement. View Full-Text
Keywords: varicella zoster virus; stem cells; human neurons; latency; reactivation; neurotrophic factors varicella zoster virus; stem cells; human neurons; latency; reactivation; neurotrophic factors

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Baird, N.L.; Zhu, S.; Pearce, C.M.; Viejo-Borbolla, A. Current In Vitro Models to Study Varicella Zoster Virus Latency and Reactivation. Viruses 2019, 11, 103.

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