Varicella zoster virus in the temporal artery of a patient with giant cell arteritis

J Neurol Sci. 2013 Dec 15;335(1-2):228-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2013.09.034. Epub 2013 Oct 2.


We recently detected varicella zoster virus (VZV) in the temporal arteries (TA) of 5/24 patients with clinically suspect giant cell arteritis (GCA) whose TAs were GCA-negative pathologically; in those GCA-negative, VZV+TAs, virus antigen predominated in the arterial adventitia, but without medial necrosis and multinucleated giant cells. During our continuing search for VZV antigen in GCA-negative TAs, in the TA of one subject, we found abundant VZV antigen, as well as VZV DNA, in multiple regions (skip areas) of the TA spanning 350 μm, as well as in skeletal muscle adjacent to the infected TA. Additional pathological analysis of sections adjacent to those containing viral antigen revealed inflammation involving the arterial media and abundant multinucleated giant cells characteristic of GCA. Detection of VZV in areas of the TA with pathological features of GCA warrants further correlative pathological-virological analysis of VZV in GCA.

Keywords: Giant cell arteritis; Stroke; Temporal arteritis; Temporal artery; Varicella zoster virus; Vasculopathy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • DNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Female
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / etiology*
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / pathology*
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / virology
  • Herpes Zoster / complications*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Medulla Oblongata / pathology
  • Medulla Oblongata / virology
  • Pons / pathology
  • Pons / virology
  • Temporal Arteries / pathology*
  • Temporal Arteries / virology


  • DNA, Viral