In vivo corneal replicas were made in 20 cases of patients with superficial dendritic ulcers of the cornea. Histopathological study of the replicas and superficial epithelial cells showed that the dendrites are composed of rounded epithelial cells and variable sized syncytia containing bizarre shaped nuclei. Pseudopodia-like processes containing DNA and some RNA extend from the syncytia into the surrounding epithelial cells, which on coming into contact with these processes become rounded and liquefied to give rise to another syncytium. The epithelial cells adjacent to the dendrite and elongated and usually orientated parallel to the long axis of the lesion. Surrounding the terminal bulbs, they are disposed in an arcuate fashion. These cells show C-mitotic lesions, intranuclear and cytoplasmic inclusion bodies, and polykaryocyte formation. Microscopic examination of the corneal replicas shows the intranuclear lesions and rounding of cells up to about 2 mm away from the dendritic ulcers. These areas appear normal on clinical examination.
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