The term "cytopathic effect" (CPE) is frequently applied to virus-induced cellular changes that are visible by light microscopy. These changes include swelling or shrinkage of cells, the formation of multinucleated giant cells (syncytia), and the production of "inclusions" (made visible by staining) in the nucleus or cytoplasm of the infected cell.
The most efficient way to demonstrate cellular changes is by staining with
Cell monolayers are fixed and then exposed to basic and acidic dyes that accentuate the nature and location of the changes.
The gross appearance of the cellular changes, and the location and nature of the "inclusions" - i.e. basophilic or eosinophilic - can in many instances be used as a diagnostic criterion to identify the causative virus. These will be illustrated for some of the viruses commonly isolated in cell culture:-
|Syncytia:||The herpes group of viruses:|
Respiratory syncytial virus
|herpes simplex virus
varicella zoster virus
Return to: Medical Virology Homepage