Fourteen strains of virus derived from the cutaneous lesions of cases of varicella and eight from patients with herpes zoster were propagated serially in primary explant cultures of human preputial or embryonic skin-muscle tissue. Infectious material could not be demonstrated in the fluid phase of infected cultures and inocula for passage therefore consisted of suspensions of infected tissue. Such tissue suspensions when stored in the frozen state did not regularly retain infectivity.
The cytopathic process was focal and appeared to develop as the result of transfer of infectious material from cell to contiguous cell. Optimum development of the focal lesions in vitro related directly to conditions favoring optimum tissue growth and was further influenced by the spatial relationship of the tissue outgrowth.
A variety of types of cells of human origin and several of monkey origin were susceptible to infection and responded with the formation of intranuclear inclusion bodies. The cellular response otherwise was variable, ranging from simple rounding with little change in size to the formation of large multinucleated cytoplasmic syncytia.
Strains of virus recovered from patients with varicella and from patients with herpes zoster could not be distinguished on the basis of their cultural attributes.