Viral persistence and molecular latency are characteristic of infection by the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). Using the murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) as a model for human infection, a quantitative-competitive polymerase chain reaction (QC-PCR) assay was developed to detect and quantify MCMV-DNA in the salivary glands of infected mice. The QC-PCR detected high numbers of MCMV DNA copies in the absence of infectious virus. By comparing the DNA content and the results obtained from a standard semiquantitative plaque assay, it is concluded that 1 plaque-forming unit (pfu) is the equivalent of approximately 1500 viral genomes. By day 42-post infection (pi) 4 x 103 copies of DNA/1 mg tissue were sufficient to reactivate infectious virions after cyclophosphamide immunosupression. By day 90 pi, however, when the DNA load was decreased to < 1.2 x 102, reactivation was not observed. These results indicate that viral reactivation will occur when the number of infectious DNA copies is equivalent about 2-3 pfu. This quantitative test may therefore help to detect CMV and the risk of reactivation in immunosupressed patients. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
- Salivary Glands
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