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Infect Immun. 1977 Jan;15(1):221-9.

Effects of low- and high-passage influenza virus infection in normal and nude mice.


A human isolate of type A Hong Kong influenza virus (H3N2) was adapted to mice by serial passage. Lung homogenates from mice who received low passage levels contained about the same quantity of virus (10(6.2-6.95) 50% tissue culture infective doses/ml) as those from mice who received high passage levels (10(5.95-6.45) 50% tissue culture infective doses/ml); however, death occurred only in animals given high-passage virus. Passage 3 (P3) and passage 9 (P9) viruses were selected as representative of low-passage and high-passage viruses, respectively. Although minimal differences were detected in infectivity for rhesus monkey kidney tissue cultures and mice, P9 virus was at least 10,000 times more lethal for mice (mean lethal dose = 10(4.2)). Infection with P3 virus was accompanied by minimal bronchitis and bronchiolitis only, whereas P9-infected animals exhibited marked bronchitis, bronchiolitis, and pneumonia. Striking thymic cortical atrophy was also demonstrable in the P9-infected animals and, although virus was more commonly recovered from thymuses from these animals, immunofluorescent studies revealed only a few cells containing influenza virus antigens. To further explore the participation of thymus-derived lymphocytes in influenza, athymic nude mice and furred immunocompetent littermates were given 500 50% mouse infectious doses of P9 virus. Nude mice exhibited an increased survival time and, in contrast to the extensive lung pathology seen in furred littermates, manifested minimal cellular infiltration and no tissue destruction in lungs. Brains from nude mice exhibited encephalomalacia with lymphocytic perivascular cuffing, which was not seen in furred animals. Virus was recovered from brains of 6 of 13 nude mice and 1 of 10 furred animals. The contrasting models suggest that thymus-dependent cells play a significant role in the inflammatory response to influenza virus infection and should prove useful for probing host-virus interactions which characterize influenza virus virulence.

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