Detection of herpes simplex virus after penetrating keratoplasty by polymerase chain reaction: correlation of clinical and laboratory findings

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 1995 Nov;233(11):714-6. doi: 10.1007/BF00164675.


Background: The study was carried out to investigate the possible correlation of clinical findings, histopathologic features and detection of herpes simplex virus DNA in corneal buttons obtained after penetrating keratoplasty.

Methods: We examined 47 consecutive corneal buttons sent for histopathologic examination by light microscopy and using the polymerase chain reaction for the detection of HSV1 and HSV2. Twenty-one corneal buttons from eyes with bullous keratopathy served as controls.

Results: The 47 cases were graded from the clinical information available as unproven, suspected and clinically proven cases of herpetic keratitis. This grading did not correlate to specific histopathologic features or to the results of HSV1 DNA testing. None of the cases were positive for HSV2 DNA.

Conclusion: HSV DNA was detected in some of the cases of clinically unsuspected herpetic keratitis. This technique of demonstrating the presence or absence of HSV in the cornea after keratoplasty is more reliable than clinical data or histopathologic findings and may be important in cases of recurrent inflammatory episodes involving grafts after keratoplasty.

MeSH terms

  • Cornea / pathology
  • Cornea / virology*
  • DNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Keratitis, Herpetic / pathology
  • Keratitis, Herpetic / surgery
  • Keratitis, Herpetic / virology*
  • Keratoplasty, Penetrating*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • DNA, Viral