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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Influenza A virus infection of human Schwann cells in vitro.

OBJECTIVES: Sudden sensorineural hearing loss, vestibular neuronitis, vocal fold paralysis and Bell's palsy have been associated with a viral etiology, due to the infection of nerve cells. The goal of this research was to ascertain whether Schwann cells can support infection with human influenza A virus and thereby represent a plausible alternative site for virus-host interaction. Viral infection of Schwann cells may lead to secretion of inflammatory mediators, leukocyte recruitment, demyelination and nerve damage. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Cultured human Schwann cells were exposed to human influenza A virus. Infection was assayed at various times post-inoculation (0, 24, 48 and 72 h) using light microscopy, immunocytochemistry and influenza A virus-specific reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). A group of unexposed cells served as controls. RESULTS: Following exposure to the virus, vacuolization, cellular expansion and detachment from the dish were seen as early as 24 h post-inoculation. The exposed cells demonstrated positive immunocytochemical staining for influenza A virus antigen at 24, 48 and 72 h. Using RT-PCR, a sharp rise in influenza A virus-specific mRNA was detected. CONCLUSIONS: Human Schwann cells can be infected with human influenza A virus. Further studies will assess the inflammatory response in this model.[1]


  1. Influenza A virus infection of human Schwann cells in vitro. Levine, J., Buchman, C.A., Fregien, N. Acta Otolaryngol. (2003) [Pubmed]
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