Different modes of herpes simplex virus type 1 spread in brain and skin tissues

Yael Tsalenchuck, Tomer Tzur, Israel Steiner, Amos Panet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) initially infects the skin and subsequently spreads to the nervous system. To investigate and compare HSV-1 mode of propagation in the two clinically relevant tissues, we have established ex vivo infection models, using native tissues of mouse and human skin, as well as mouse brain, maintained in organ cultures. HSV-1, which is naturally restricted to the human, infects and spreads in the mouse and human skin tissues in a similar fashion, thus validating the mouse model. The spread of HSV-1 in the skin was concentric to form typical plaques of limited size, predominantly of cytopathic cells. By contrast, HSV-1 spread in the brain tissue was directed along specific neuronal networks with no apparent cytopathic effect. Two additional differences were noted following infection of the skin and brain tissues. First, only a negligible amount of extracellular progeny virus was produced of the infected brain tissues, while substantial quantity of infectious progeny virus was released to the media of the infected skin. Second, antibodies against HSV-1, added following the infection, effectively restricted viral spread in the skin but have no effect on viral spread in the brain tissue. Taken together, these results reveal that HSV-1 spread within the brain tissue mostly by direct transfer from cell to cell, while in the skin the progeny extracellular virus predominates, thus facilitating the infection to new individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-27
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of NeuroVirology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain
  • HSV-1
  • Skin
  • Spread


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