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Virology. 1996 Sep 15;223(2):272-82.

Detection of borna disease virus antigen and RNA in human autopsy brain samples from neuropsychiatric patients.

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Department of Neuropharmacology, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Borna disease virus (BDV) causes a central nervous system disease in several vertebrate species which is characterized by behavioral disturbances. Seroepidemiological data indicate an association of BDV infection with certain human mental disorders. Sclerosis of the hippocampus and astrocytosis constitute histopathological hallmarks of BDV infection in animals. Therefore, we searched for human brain autopsy cases with such histopathological features. Five of 600 cases examined were identified as having hippocampus sclerosis and astrocytosis. Using immunocytochemistry, RT-PCR, and in situ hybridization, we detected both BDV antigen and RNA in autopsy brain samples from 4 of these 5 patients, who presented with a clinical history of mental disorders involving memory loss and depression. This is the first demonstration that BDV can infect human brain tissue, possibly contributing to the pathophysiology of specific human neuropsychiatric disorders.

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