Quantitative studies were made of the infection of mouse peritoneal macrophages by cytomegalovirus, using virus assays and immunofluorescence. The efficiency of infection was low. Broth-induced peritoneal macrophages were about four times more resistant to infection than unstimulated macrophages and it was even more difficult to infect activated macrophages taken from mice 6 days after intravenous infection. Peritoneal macrophages (unstimulated) were infected at least 15 times more readily by tissue culture-passed (attenuated) virus than by salivary gland (virulent) virus, but macrophages prevented the spread of tissue culture virus to underlying susceptible mouse embryo fibroblasts, whereas they did so much less effectively with virulent salivary gland virus.

The pathogenesis of infection was studied in intact mice by immunofluorescence, and the observations paralleled the findings. When large doses of salivary gland virus were injected intravenously, infected Kupffer cells (liver macrophages) were occasionally seen and the inoculated virus directly infected large numbers of hepatic cells. In similar experiments with tissue culture-passed virus, there was initial infection of occasional Kupffer cells, which only rarely gave rise to infected hepatic cells. Differences in the extent of Kupffer cell infection by the two strains of virus were not detected in these experiments. Salivary gland virus also usually failed to infect splenic or lymph node macrophages. Occasional infected mononuclear cells were seen in the blood, lung and bone marrow, but were not identified. Infected cells were very rarely seen in the thymus, even in suckling mice.


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