Characterization of murine cytomegalovirus infection and induction of calcification in Murine Aortic Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells (MOVAS)

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Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a widespread pathogen that causes lifelong latent infection in the majority of the world population. HCMV is associated with increased incidence and severity of many cardiovascular diseases including myocarditis, atherosclerosis, and transplant vasculopathy. Due to the species-restricted nature of cytomegalovirus infection, murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) is a useful model that recapitulates many of the features of HCMV infection of the cardiovascular system. While in vivo MCMV studies are able to answer many questions regarding pathogenesis of infection, in vitro experiments using cell lines are useful tools to further understand the potential underlying mechanisms. In this study, we characterize MCMV infection of the murine aortic smooth muscle cell line (MOVAS). Our findings demonstrate that MOVAS cells are permissive for MCMV infection, form plaques under carboxymethyl cellulose overlay, and produce progeny virus similar to NIH 3T3 murine embryonic fibroblasts. In addition, MCMV infection induces calcification in MOVAS cells similar to that seen in the epicardium of MCMV-infected hearts. We conclude that MOVAS cells are a useful in vitro tool for studying CMV-mediated cardiac calcification.

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Journal of virological methods

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