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J Gen Virol. 2013 Feb;94(Pt 2):276-83. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.047480-0. Epub 2012 Oct 31.

Street rabies virus causes dendritic injury and F-actin depolymerization in the hippocampus.

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Department of Pathophysiology, Norman Bethune College of Medicine, Jilin University, Xinming Road, Changchun 130021, PR China.


Rabies is an acute viral infection of the central nervous system and is typically fatal in humans and animals; however, its pathogenesis remains poorly understood. In this study, the morphological changes of dendrites and dendritic spines in the CA1 region of the hippocampus were investigated in mice that were infected intracerebrally with an MRV strain of the street rabies virus. Haematoxylin and eosin and fluorescence staining analysis of brain sections from the infected mice showed very few morphological changes in the neuronal bodies and neuronal processes. However, we found a significant decrease in the number of dendritic spines. Primary neuronal cultures derived from the hippocampus of mice (embryonic day 16.5) that were infected with the virus also showed an obvious decrease in the number of dendritic spines. Furthermore, the decrease in the number of dendritic spines was related to the depolymerization of actin filaments (F-actin). We propose that the observed structural changes can partially explain the severe clinical disease that was found in experimental models of street rabies virus infections.

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