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Circulation. 2001 Feb 6;103(5):756-61.

Cardioselective infection with coxsackievirus B3 requires intact type I interferon signaling: implications for mortality and early viral replication.

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Deutsches Herzzentrum and 1 Medizinische Klinik, Technische Universit├Ąt, Munich, Germany.



Interferons (IFNs) play an important role in antiviral defense and have therapeutic potential in coxsackievirus heart disease. However, little is known about the relative contributions of type I and type II IFN signaling in coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) infection or their role in the cardioselective nature of CVB3 infection.


Wild-type mice and mice deficient for either the type I or the type II IFN receptor (IFNR) were infected with CVB3. Infection of the type I IFNR-deficient mice with >10(3) plaque-forming units (pfu) of CVB3 resulted in 100% mortality within 2 to 4 days after infection. Death was rare in wild-type and type II IFNR-deficient mice after inoculation with as much as 10(8) pfu of CVB3. Surprisingly, the early mortality in the type I IFNR-deficient mice was not accompanied by higher virus titers in the heart. Unexpectedly, a dramatic increase of viral RNA in the liver was found to correlate with early mortality in type I IFNR-deficient mice.


Type I but not type II IFN signaling is essential for the prevention of early death due to CVB3 infection. Interestingly, neither type I or type II IFN signaling has a dramatic effect on early viral replication in the heart. However, lethal viral replication in the liver is controlled by type I IFNs. These results demonstrate that the IFN system is capable of modulating both viral pathogenicity and tissue tropism.

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