Atheroarteriosclerosis induced by infection with a herpesvirus

Am J Pathol. 1979 Sep;96(3):673-706.


Atheroarteriosclerosis closely resembling that in humans was induced in normocholesterolemic and hypercholesterolemic chickens by infection with Marek's disease herpesvirus (MDV). Four comparably sized groups of chickens were used. Each group was initially fed a diet relatively poor in cholesterol. Group I and II were inoculated intratracheally at 2 days of age with MDV. At 15 weeks, one group of virus-infected chickens (Group II) and one group of uninfected controls (Group IV) were fed a 2% cholesterol supplement for an additional 15 weeks. Group I, infected, and III, uninfected, were continued on a cholesterol-poor diet. All groups were killed at 30 weeks. Striking grossly visible atherosclerotic lesions were seen in large coronary arteries, aortas, and major aortic branches of both Groups I and II but not in those of Groups III and IV. Microscopically, arterial changes in infected animals were characterized by occlusive fibromuscular intimal thickening, which formed fibrous caps overlying areas of atheromatous change. This change closely resembled chronic atherosclerosis in humans. These results may be important to our understanding of human arteriosclerosis, since there is widespread and persistent infection of human populations with as many as five herpesviruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis
  • Arteries / pathology
  • Arteriosclerosis / blood
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology*
  • Arteriosclerosis / pathology
  • Chickens
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Coronary Disease / etiology
  • Coronary Disease / pathology
  • Diet, Atherogenic
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Marek Disease / complications*
  • Marek Disease / immunology
  • Marek Disease / pathology
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Precipitin Tests


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Cholesterol