A primary infection of peritoneal macrophage cultures with the lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus (LDV) results in productive infection of 3 to 20% of the cells. When cultures were incubated in the absence of macrophage growth factor (MGF), LDV production ceased after a single cycle, but in cultures in which macrophage replication was stimulated by the presence of MGF LDV production continued for several weeks at a low level, representing not more than 1% of that observed during the acute phase. Significant amounts of interferon were not present in either acutely or persistently infected cultures, and treatment of persistently infected cultures with anti-interferon globulin or superinfection with LDV did not significantly stimulate LDV replication. Macrophage cultures established with peritoneal macrophages from LDV-infected mice also showed only a low level of LDV replication and were resistant to superinfection by LDV. Mouse hepatitis virus, Semliki Forest virus and vesicular stomatitis virus, on the other hand, replicated normally in LDV-persistently infected macrophage cultures. LDV replication was relatively resistant to interferon whether added to the cultures or generated endogenously by infection with Newcastle disease virus or defective-interfering (DI) particles of vesicular stomatitis virus. Temperature-sensitive mutants or DI particles of LDV were not detected in LDV-persistently infected cultures or chronically infected mice. The results support our hypothesis that the decrease in LDV production in mice or macrophage cultures at the end of the acute phase results from the destruction of the subpopulation of macrophages that is permissive for LDV, and that the low level persistent infection involves the passage of the virus to new permissive cells that are generated continuously, although at a low rate, from non-permissive precursor cells.


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