The noncytopathic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus displays a tropism for the anterior lobe of the murine pituitary gland. Virus replicates in cells that make growth hormone. This results in a diminished synthesis of growth hormone with a concomitant clinical picture of retarded growth and hypoglycemia. However, there is no morphologic evidence of either cell necrosis or inflammation in the anterior lobe of the pituitary. Hence, during infection in vivo, a noncytopathic virus may turn off the "differentiation" or "luxury" function of a cell while not killing that cell (loss of vital function). This in turn can disrupt homeostasis and cause disease. This model illustrates a novel way whereby viruses may cause disease.
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