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Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 1997 Jun;23(3):235-41.

Long-term effects of Semliki Forest virus infection in the mouse central nervous system.

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Department of Microbiology, Moyne Institute of Preventive Medicine, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.


Semliki Forest virus (SFV) infection of mice is used as a model to study pathogenic processes occurring in viral encephalitis and demyelinating disease. In this study, the long-term effects of infection by the avirulent M9 mutant of SPV on the central nervous system (CNS) of BALB/c and SJL mice were determined. The presence of infectious virus, viral RNA and cytokine mRNA in the brains of individual mice and the presence of lesions in the spinal cords of the same mice up to 360 days post-infection (d.p.i.) were analysed in order to detect any correlation between these parameters of pathogenesis. Infectious virus could not be detected beyond 7 d.p.i. for either mouse strain. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was used to detect the presence of the E2 and nsP1 regions of the virus genome and mRNA for interferon-gamma and tumour necrosis factor-alpha. Viral RNA could be detected up to 90 d.p.i. for both mouse strains. Cytokine mRNA could be detected up to 28 d.p.i. for BALB/c mice but up to 360 d.p.i. for SJL mice. Inflammatory lesions, which were associated with cytokine mRNA expression, were not detected in BALB/c mice beyond 28 d.p.i. but were detected in two SJL mice at 90 d.p.i. It is concluded that M9-SFV infection induces long-term prolonged expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the CNS of the majority of SJL (but not BALB/c) mice which is not associated with persistence of the virus genome. M9-SFV infection of SJL mice may be a relevant model for the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis in man.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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