Hai, R., Chu, A., Li, H., Umamoto, S., Rider, P., and Liu, F. Program in Infectious Diseases and Immunity, Program in Comparative Biochemistry, School of Public Health, 140 Warren Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

This study by researchers at UC Berkeley School of Public Health demonstrated that MatTek’s EpiGingival in vitro human tissue equivalent can be used to study human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection, and to screen antivirals that block viral replication and transmission in the oral cavity. Background: Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection in the oral cavity plays an important role in its horizontal transmission and in causing viral-associated oral diseases such as gingivitis. However, little is currently known about HCMV pathogenesis in oral mucosa, partially because HCMV infection is primarily limited to human cells and few cultured tissue or animal models are available for studying HCMV infection. Results: In this report, researchers in the Infectious Diseases and Immunity Program at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health studied the infection of HCMV in EpiGingival, a cultured gingival tissue model (MatTek Corp.) and investigated whether EpiGingival tissues can be used to study HCMV infection in the oral mucosa. HCMV replicated in EpiGingival tissues that were infected through the apical surface, achieving a titer of at least 300-fold at 10 days post-infection. Moreover, the virus spread from the apical surface to the basal region and reduced the thickness of the stratum corneum at the apical region. Viral proteins IE1, UL44, and UL99 were expressed in infected EpiGingival tissues, a characteristic of HCMV lytic replication in vivo. Studies of a collection of eight viral mutants provide the first direct evidence that a mutant with a deletion of open reading frame US18 is deficient in growth in the EpiGingival tissues, suggesting that HCMV encodes specific determinants for its infection in oral mucosa. Treatment by ganciclovir abolished viral growth in the infected tissues. Conclusion: This UC Berkeley School of Public Health research suggests that MatTek’s EpiGingival cultured gingival mucosa can be used as a tissue model for studying HCMV infection and for screening antivirals to block viral replication and transmission in the oral cavity.


Apical surface, Cultured gingival mucosa, Cultured gingival tissue model, EpiGingival, Ganciclovir, Gingivitis, HCMV infection, HCMV pathogenesis, Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection, IE1, Open reading frame US18, Oral cavity, Oral mucosa, Screening antivirals, UL44, UL99, Viral proteins, Viral-associated oral diseases

Request a copy of this paper, click here.