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Lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus replication persists in liver, spleen, lymph node, and testis tissues and results in accumulation of viral RNA in germinal centers, concomitant with polyclonal activation of B cells.

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  • Research Article


Lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus (LDV) replicates primarily and most likely solely in a subpopulation of macrophages in extraneuronal tissues. Infection of mice, regardless of age, with LDV leads to the rapid cytocidal replication of the virus in these cells, resulting in the release of large amounts of LDV into the circulation. The infection then progresses into life-long, asymptomatic, low-level viremic persistence, which is maintained by LDV replication in newly generated LDV-permissive cells which escapes all antiviral immune responses. In situ hybridization studies of tissue sections of adult FVB mice revealed that by 1 day postinfection (p.i.), LDV-infected cells were present in practically all tissues but were present in the highest numbers in the lymph nodes, spleen, and skin. In the central nervous system, LDV-infected cells were restricted to the leptomeninges. Most of the infected cells had disappeared at 3 days p.i., consistent with the cytocidal nature of the LDV infection, except for small numbers in lymph node, spleen, liver, and testis tissues. These tissues harbored infected cells until at least 90 days p.i. The results suggest that the generation of LDV-permissive cells during the persistent phase is restricted to these tissues. The continued presence of LDV-infected cells in testis tissue suggests the possibility of LDV release in semen and sexual transmission. Most striking was the accumulation of large amounts of LDV RNA in newly generated germinal centers of lymph nodes and the spleen. The LDV RNA was not associated with infected cells but was probably associated with virions or debris of infected, lysed cells. The appearance of LDV RNA in germinal centers in these mice coincided in time with the polyclonal activation of B cells, which leads to the accumulation of polyclonal immunoglobulin G2a and low-molecular-weight immune complexes in the circulation.

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