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An Ocular Infection Model Using Suckling Hamsters Inoculated With Equine Herpesvirus 9 (EHV-9) : Kinetics of the Virus and Time-Course Pathogenesis of EHV-9–Induced Encephalitis via the Eyes

El-Habashi, N., Kato, Y., EL-Nahass, E., Fukushi, H., Hirata, A., Sakai, H., Kimura, J., Yanai, T.
Equid herpesvirus 9, animal models, animal pathology, brain stem, cerebellum, encephalitis, epithelial cells, eyelids, eyes, hamsters, horses, macrophages, muscles, myositis, necrosis, nerve endings, nerve tissue, neurons, suckling, viral antigens
By using a new member of the neurotropic equine herpesviruses, EHV-9, which induced encephalitis in various species via various routes, an ocular infection model was developed in suckling hamsters. The suckling hamsters were inoculated with EHV-9 via the conjunctival route and were sacrificed after 6, 12, 24, 36, 48, 72, 96, 120, and 144 hours (h) post inoculation (PI). Three horizontal sections of the brains, including the eyes and cranial cavity, were examined histologically to assess the viral kinetics and time-course neuropathological alterations using a panoramic view. At 6 to 24 h PI, there were various degrees of necrosis in the conjunctival epithelial cells, as well as frequent mononuclear cell infiltrations in the lamina propria and the tarsus of the eyelid, and frequent myositis of the eyelid muscles. At 96 h PI, encephalitis was observed in the brainstem at the level of the pons and cerebellum. EHV-9 antigen immunoreactivity was detected in the macrophages circulating in the eyelid and around the fine nerve endings supplying the eyelid, the nerves of the extraocular muscles, and the lacrimal glands from 6 h to 144 h PI. At 96 h PI, the viral antigen immunoreactivity was detected in the brainstem at the level of the pons and cerebellum. These results suggest that EHV-9 invaded the brain via the trigeminal nerve in addition to the abducent, oculomotor, and facial nerves. This conjunctival EHV-9 suckling hamster model may be useful in assessing the neuronal spread of neuropathogenic viruses via the eyes to the brain.