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Viral Cytopathic Effect in Cell Culture—Vaccinia Virus Send Print

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Created: Tuesday, 01 January 2002
Last update: Friday, 20 August 2010
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Vaccinia virus (Enlarged view)
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Vaccinia virus (Labeled view)
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Vaccinia virus (Enlarged view)
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Vaccinia virus (Labeled view)
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Uninfected Vero cell (Enlarged view)
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Uninfected Vero cell (Labeled view)
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Uninfected Vero cell (Enlarged view)
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Uninfected Vero cell (Labeled view)
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Virus replication is often detected by the morphological changes, or cytopathic effects (CPE), that are seen in infected cell cultures. These photomicrographs (Fig. 1 and 2) illustrate the CPE typical of vaccinia virus infection of Vero cells, a monkey cell line. The small syncytia, or multinucleated giant cells, result from fusion of cell membranes bearing viral glycoproteins. Also visible in this culture (Fig. 2) are inclusion bodies, which are seen as eosinophilic areas of altered staining in the cytoplasm. In order to view these cellular changes under light microscopy, the cell cultures have been stained with hematoxylin, a basic dye, and eosin, an acidic dye. The cell culture is shown 5 days after virus inoculation. Figure 1 is at x100; Fig. 2 is at x400.

For comparison, Fig. 3 (x100) and Fig. 4 (x400) show the uninfected Vero cell line at 48 h after seeding of the culture. In Fig. 4, several nucleoli are visible inside each nucleus. Cells have been stained with hematoxylin, a basic dye, and eosin, an acidic dye. Note the eosinophilic cytoplasm (pink) and basophilic nuclei (purple).

These images can be used to help students visualize viral CPE.

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