Herpes simplex virus-1 infection of colonic explants as a model of viral-induced activation of Crohn's disease

Manuel A. Silva, José Menezes, Serge Dionne, Emile Levy, Devendra K. Amre, Ernest G. Seidman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The exogenous triggers responsible for Crohn's disease (CD) relapses are not often identified. Cytomegalovirus and other members of the herpesvirus family have been implicated in precipitating relapses. However, the role of viral infections in the immunopathogenesis of CD remains poorly understood. We describe an ex-vivo model of primary viral infection of CD tissue with Herpes Simplex Virus type I (HSV-1). IL-6 and CD68 served as markers for CD inflammation, type I IFNs for viral infection. Colonic explants obtained from CD resections were infected via the luminal or the submucosal compartments with HSV-1 or mock virus solution, at varying concentrations for up to 20h. Serial tissue sections were assayed for expression of HSV-1 specific antigens, CD-68, IL-6 and DC-SIGN. Culture supernatants were tested for IL-6 and type I IFN production. Positive immunostaining for HSV-1 specific antigens was consistently detectable using 11×106PFU from 13h onwards, mainly on cells located in the submucosa, and in the perivascular area. CD68 was up-regulated in lamina propria macrophages from mildly and non-inflamed CD tissue after HSV-1 infection. IL-6+ cells in the infected tissues were mainly submucosal DC-SIGN+ dendritic cells. IL-6 and IFN-β levels were higher in the supernatants from HSV-1-infected explants compared to controls after 20h of culture (p<0.01). These data show increased expression of inflammatory markers during the initial stages of HSV-1 primary infection using CD colonic explants. This in vitro model appears promising to study the immunoregulatory changes induced by microbial infection in reactivation of CD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-463
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Crohn's and Colitis
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Crohn's disease
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • IFN-β
  • IL-6
  • Viral infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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