Genomic and functional analysis of the host response to acute simian varicella infection in the lung

Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 28;6:34164. doi: 10.1038/srep34164.


Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) is the causative agent of varicella and herpes zoster. Although it is well established that VZV is transmitted via the respiratory route, the host-pathogen interactions during acute VZV infection in the lungs remain poorly understood due to limited access to clinical samples. To address these gaps in our knowledge, we leveraged a nonhuman primate model of VZV infection where rhesus macaques are intrabronchially challenged with the closely related Simian Varicella Virus (SVV). Acute infection is characterized by immune infiltration of the lung airways, a significant up-regulation of genes involved in antiviral-immunity, and a down-regulation of genes involved in lung development. This is followed by a decrease in viral loads and increased expression of genes associated with cell cycle and tissue repair. These data provide the first characterization of the host response required to control varicella virus replication in the lung and provide insight into mechanisms by which VZV infection can cause lung injury in an immune competent host.