, Volume 167, Issue 2, pp 117-126

Normal and pseudorabies virus infected primary nerve cell cultures in scanning electron microscopy

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Primary cell cultures from the central nervous system of the embryonic rat were inoculated with pseudorabies virus. Their morphological changes were studied by phase contrast microscopy and by scanning as well as by transmission electron microscopy. Uninfected cultures display two distinct cell layers in scanning electron microscopy: a flat continuous monolayer supports a heterogeneous population of individual, presumably neural cells, which emit processes of different number and size. The latter cells form contacts by a dense network of fibres.

Infectious virus is propagated in these nerve cell cultures with similar effectivity as in other cultures. The infection leads to fusion and death of the cells. By the time the cytopathic effect is visible, nearly all cells, including those of neuronal and those of nonneuronal appearance, are studded with ample amounts of virus-sized particles. The particles represent viruses as demonstrated by transmission electron microscopy or by treatment with a hyperimmune serum directed against pseudorabies virus structural components. Hyperimmune serum leads to clustering of the particles at the cell surface. The amount of virus particles per surface unit was about 10 times higher on neural cells as compared to primary rabbit kidney cells. The concentration of infectious particles in the supernatant, however was approximately the same. The system described appears to be useful for the study of acute virus effects on neural tissue under strictly controlled conditions.

Part of this work will be presented in the thesis of U. Bijok
Work was supported by Sonderforschungsbereich 47 and the Bundesministerium des Inneren.