Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) gingivostomatitis during childhood is known to result in a latent infection of the trigeminal ganglion neurons, which innervate the oral mucosa. During latency the viral genome is maintained in a non-infectious state. However, stimuli such as stress, fever or localized trauma can cause HSV-1 to reactivate in neurons and produce recrudescent disease in the peripheral tissues. Recently, HSV-1 proteins and nucleic acids have been detected in biopsies from human duodenal and gastric ulcers, raising the possibility that HSV-1 latency within the enteric nervous system is involved in this chronic recurrent gastrointestinal disorder. The studies in mice described here were done to determine whether HSV-1 latency could be established in neurons that innervate the murine gut. We found that after either intraperitoneal or oral-oesophageal inoculation of mice, HSV-1 establishes a latent infection in nodose ganglia of the vagus nerve, whose sensory neurons project to the gastrointestinal tract. This animal model of HSV-1 latency in the vagal sensory ganglia will be useful to examine the possible relationship between HSV-1 and recurrent gastrointestinal disease.


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