Which histologic findings suggest varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection?

Updated: Feb 15, 2019
  • Author: Wayne E Anderson, DO, FAHS, FAAN; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Answer

The varicella zoster virus is a DNA virus with a genome that encodes 70 proteins.

The Tzanck preparation shows characteristic findings of giant cells with 2-15 nuclei. Recently infected epithelial cells contain a single enlarged nucleus with a thick nuclear membrane.

After reactivation, meningeal biopsy samples show a local inflammatory response, consisting of plasma cells and lymphocytes, that encompasses the leptomeninges.

Evidence has shown that motor neuron involvement is demyelinating rather than axonal.


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