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Alpha herpes virus type and viral load in intraocular fluids in patients with acute retinal necrosis

Journal article
Authors Joanna von Hofsten
Tomas Bergström
Madeleine Zetterberg
Published in Bmj Open Ophthalmology
Volume 4
Issue 1
ISSN 2397-3269
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Language en
Keywords polymerase-chain-reaction, clinical-manifestations, diagnostic-criteria, aqueous-humor, simplex, DNA, infections, management, samples, Ophthalmology
Subject categories Ophthalmology, Immunology in the medical area


Objectives To identify all patients tested positive for herpes viruses in intraocular samples between 2007 and 2016 in South-Western Sweden and evaluate which of these met the criteria of acute retinal necrosis (ARN). To compare viral load in intraocular samples and virus type with clinical outcome. Method and analysis Retrospective case series. Intraocular samples and serum were analysed with quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and presence of antibodies (IgG and IgM) were detected by ELISA in serum. Results Between 2007 and 2016, 13 patients met the clinical criteria of ARN and were PCR-positive in aqueous or vitreous for herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1; n=4), herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV2; n=3) and varicella zoster virus (VZV; n=6). None of the patients tested positive for cytomegalovirus (n=13) or Epstein Barr virus (n=2) met the criteria of ARN. All ARN patients had specific serum IgG and three patients exhibited virus DNA in serum. There was no correlation between high viral load and worse visual outcome. However, higher viral loads were seen in samples taken earlier in the disease process. Median age was higher (p=0.049) in VZV-ARN than for HSV-ARN patients (60.5 and 45.4 years, respectively) with a tendency of worse best corrected visual acuity at presentation (1.62 and 0.79 log MAR, respectively; p=0.079). Conclusion ARN is a reactivation of alpha herpes virus and presence of herpes DNA in serum may occur. VZV-ARN are older than HSV-ARN patients. High viral load does not appear to be a predictor of worse visual outcome, but rather indicates earlier sampling.

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