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Herpes simplex encephalitis in the temporal cortex and limbic system after trigeminal nerve inoculation. J Infect Dis 1994 Apr;169(4):782-6



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-0028344902 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   65 Citations


Herpes simplex virus type 1 causes an encephalitis in humans that is primarily restricted to the temporal lobe and limbic system. The distribution of lesions suggests that virus enters the brain from a single site and then spreads transneuronally to infect connected structures. Two obvious sites of potential viral entry are the olfactory and trigeminal nerves. Trigeminal nerve entry is more likely because it innervates the oral cavity, a common site of initial infection, and the trigeminal ganglion is the most common site of viral latency. In previous reports, however, experimental trigeminal nerve infection has never led to the pattern of disease observed in humans. By directly inoculating virus into the murine tooth pulp, the mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve was selectively infected. This division, which innervates the oral cavity, is the one most commonly infected in humans. Intrapulp inoculation led to an encephalitis primarily affecting the temporal cortex and limbic system. Thus, spread via the trigeminal nerve provides an explanation for the distribution of herpes simplex virus observed in the human encephalitis.

Author List

Barnett EM, Jacobsen G, Evans G, Cassell M, Perlman S


Edward M. Barnett MD, PhD Professor in the Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Herpes Simplex
Herpesvirus 1, Human
In Situ Hybridization
Limbic System
Mice, Inbred BALB C
Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
Temporal Lobe
Trigeminal Nerve