Infection of human neural cell aggregate cultures with a clinical isolate of cytomegalovirus

Micheline McCarthy, Lionel Resnick, Floyd Taub, Renee V. Stewart, Richard D. Dix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Human neural cell aggregate cultures were prepared from dissociated fetal brain tissue and maintained in rotation culture. After 35 days in culture, aggregates had the histologic appearance of dense, immature, neural cells in a tightly packed neuropil. Electron microscopy revealed ultrastructural features suggestive of immature neurons and neuroglia. In addition, neuron-specific enolase and glial nbrillary acidic protein associated with radial glial cells were detected within the aggregates by immunoperoxidase staining. When infected with a laboratory-adapted strain of cytomegalovirus (CMV), [AD 169], cells containing large, bizarre, nuclei and CMV-induced intranuclear inclusion bodies were dispersed throughout the aggregates at 16 days postinfection. In situ hybridization using a CMV-specific DNA probe and electron microscopy confirmed the presence of virus sequences as well as virus particles at histologic sites of cytopathology. In sharp contrast, aggregate cultures infected with a CMV strain recovered from the retina of an acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) patient with CMV retinitis and encephalitis displayed distinct foci of cytopathology at 23 days postinfection, a pattern not observed in CMV [AD169]-infected aggregates. Our findings suggest that human neural cell aggregates represent a promising multicellular non-neoplastic culture system in which to study the replication of human neurotropic viruses within neural tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-450
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neuropathology and experimental neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1991


  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Neural cell culture
  • Viral cytopathic effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)


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