Influenza a virus infection of human Schwann cells in vitro

Joshua Levine, Craig A. Buchman, Nevis Fregien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objectives - Sudden sensorineural hearing loss, vestibular neuronitis, vocal fold paralysis and Bell's palsy have been associated with a viral etiology, due to the infection of nerve cells. The goal of this research was to ascertain whether Schwann cells can support infection with human influenza A virus and thereby represent a plausible alternative site for virus - host interaction. Viral infection of Schwann cells may lead to secretion of inflammatory mediators, leukocyte recruitment, demyelination and nerve damage. Material and methods - Cultured human Schwann cells were exposed to human influenza A virus. Infection was assayed at various times post-inoculation (0, 24, 48 and 72 h) using light microscopy, immunocytochemistry and influenza A virus-specific reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). A group of unexposed cells served as controls. Results - Following exposure to the virus, vacuolization, cellular expansion and detachment from the dish were seen as early as 24 h post-inoculation. The exposed cells demonstrated positive immunocytochemical staining for influenza A virus antigen at 24, 48 and 72 h. Using RT-PCR, a sharp rise in influenza A virus-specific mRNA was detected. Conclusions - Human Schwann cells can be infected with human influenza A virus. Further studies will assess the inflammatory response in this model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-45
Number of pages5
JournalActa Oto-Laryngologica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


  • In vitro
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Influenza A virus
  • Neuronitis
  • Schwann cells


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