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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 2001 Jan 31;126(1):1-12.

Neonatal Borna disease virus infection (BDV)-induced damage to the cerebellum is associated with sensorimotor deficits in developing Lewis rats.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Ross 618, 720 Rutland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Neonatal Borna disease virus (BDV) infection of the brain produces developmental damage to the cerebellum in Lewis rats, with minimal classical inflammatory responses. In the present study, we assessed the consequences of this damage by measuring motor coordination and postural skills in developing (postnatal days 4 to 30) Lewis rats that were neonatally infected with BDV. Neonatal BDV infection-induced motor impairments were selective and correlated with the time course of BDV damage to cerebellar development. BDV-induced motor deficits were not seen until the end of postnatal week 2. By postnatal week 3, BDV-infected rats had deficits in negative geotropism, fore- and hind limb placing and grasping. BDV-infected rats also exhibited deficits in the ability to hold on to a bar and to cross a suspended bar. Neonatal BDV infection induced impairments in the acoustic startle response. Compared to controls, neonatally BDV-infected rats exhibited attenuated habituation of the acoustic startle at postnatal day (PND) 23 and decreased startle responsiveness at PND 30. Prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle remained unaltered in BDV-infected rats. The data demonstrate that neonatal BDV brain infection of rats can be a valuable animal model system for studying the relationship between abnormal brain development and resultant behavioral deficits. Further studies of this model may elucidate specific pathogenic mechanisms that that may have implications in the study of neurodevelopmental human disorders.

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