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Neurosci Lett. 1993 Jun 25;156(1-2):1-4.

Decreased raphe serotonin in rabbits with experimental herpes simplex encephalitis.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Turku, Finland.


Increased monoamine metabolism in experimental herpes simplex virus (HSV) encephalitis is well established. Both serotonin (5-HT) and dopamine (DA) systems are affected. HSV invades the raphe nuclei after its entry into the brain stem. However, no studies have been published concerning influences of HSV on the neurotransmitters in the raphe. In the present study, concentrations of 5-HT and DA and their metabolites in the raphe nuclei and related brain regions in rabbits with fulminant HSV encephalitis have been analyzed using high-pressure liquid chromatography. Encephalitis was induced by corneal inoculation with HSV. Homovanillic acid (HVA) and dihydroxyphenyl acetic acid (DOPAC) concentrations and HVA/DA ratios were increased in the raphe nuclei suggesting increased DA turnover. The most substantial changes were bilaterally decreased 5-HT and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) concentrations in the raphe nuclei. The decrease in the raphe 5-HT was reflected also to the projection areas in the hemispheres, where 5-HT concentrations were lower in HSV-inoculated rabbits than in controls. The changes strongly suggest a direct influence of HSV on serotoninergic neurons. Since the ventral parts of the limbic system have rich serotoninergic afferents from the raphe, this also suggests that HSV may reach hemispheres in HSV encephalitis from the brain stem via the ascending serotoninergic system.

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