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J Immunol. 2005 Sep 15;175(6):3955-63.

Gender bias in Theiler's virus-induced demyelinating disease correlates with the level of antiviral immune responses.

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Department of Microbiology-Immunology and Neuroscience Institute, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Multiple sclerosis is an immune-mediated disease of the CNS and shows a sex-biased distribution in which 60-75% of all cases are female. A mouse model of multiple sclerosis, Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV)-induced demyelinating disease, also displays a gender bias. However, in the C57L/J strain of mice, males are susceptible to disease whereas females are completely resistant. In this study we determined the gender differences in the TMEV-specific immune response, which may be responsible for the gender bias in clinical disease. Our data clearly demonstrate that female C57L/J mice induce significantly higher levels of TMEV-specific neutralizing Ab as well as a stronger peripheral T cell response throughout the course of viral infection. In contrast, male mice have a higher level of TMEV-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell infiltration into the CNS as well as viral persistence. These results suggest that a higher level of the initial antiviral immune response in female mice may be able to effectively clear virus from the periphery and CNS and therefore prevent further disease manifestations. Male mice in contrast do not mount as effective an immune response, thereby allowing for eventual viral persistence in the CNS and continuous T cell expansion leading to clinical symptoms.

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