Bovine herpesvirus-1 (BoHV-1) infection contributes to keratoconjunctivitis, respiratory disease, and reproductive losses in cattle. The objective of this study was to determine the most appropriate ophthalmic antiviral agent for BoHV-1 inhibition using in-vitro culture and novel ex-vivo bovine corneal modeling. Half-maximal inhibitory concentrations of BoHV-1 were determined for cidofovir, ganciclovir, idoxuridine, and trifluridine via in-vitro plaque reduction assays. In-vitro cytotoxicity was compared amongst these compounds via luciferase assays. Trifluridine and cidofovir were the most potent BoHV-1 inhibitors in vitro, while trifluridine and idoxuridine were the most cytotoxic agents. Therefore, cidofovir was the most potent non-cytotoxic agent and was employed in the ex-vivo corneal assay. Corneoscleral rings (n
= 36) from fresh cadaver bovine globes were harvested and equally divided into an uninfected, untreated control group; a BoHV-1-infected, untreated group; and a BoHV-1-infected, cidofovir-treated group. Virus isolation for BoHV-1 titers was performed from corneal tissue and liquid media. Histologic measurements of corneal thickness, epithelial cell density, and tissue organization were compared between groups. Substantial BoHV-1 replication was observed in infected, untreated corneas, but BoHV-1 titer was significantly reduced in cidofovir-treated (1.69 ± 0.08 × 103
PFU/mL) versus untreated (8.25 ± 0.25 × 105
< 0.0001) tissues by day 2 of culture. No significant differences in histologic criteria were observed between groups. In conclusion, cidofovir warrants further investigation as treatment for BoHV-1 keratoconjunctivitis, with future studies needed to assess in-vivo tolerability and efficacy.
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