Factors influencing the replication of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) in guinea-pig embryo cells were evaluated using both diploid cells (GPEC) and a chemically transformed cell line (GPT). Wild-type and vaccine strains of VZV were successfully isolated and serially propagated in GPEC prepared from early gestation whole embryos (<2 cm in length). Low passage GPEC (≤5 subcultivations) were more susceptible to VZV infection than high passage GPEC (>5 subcultivations), and guinea-pig cells were consistently less permissive than human diploid cells. Cell-free virus was produced from VZV-infected GPEC cultures by sonication and peak yields of 10 p.f.u./ml were obtained. In addition, we report the isolation and propagation of VZV, as well as production of cell-free virus, in GPT. Both GPEC and GPT cells were less susceptible to VZV infection than human cells. However, viral replication was enhanced by incubation of VZV-infected GPT cultures at 32 °C rather than 36 °C.


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