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Sci Rep. 2012;2:736. doi: 10.1038/srep00736. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

Rapid Nipah virus entry into the central nervous system of hamsters via the olfactory route.

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Laboratory of Virology, Microscopy Unit, Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, MT, USA.


Encephalitis is a hallmark of Nipah virus (NiV) infection in humans. The exact route of entry of NiV into the central nervous system (CNS) is unknown. Here, we performed a spatio-temporal analysis of NiV entry into the CNS of hamsters. NiV initially predominantly targeted the olfactory epithelium in the nasal turbinates. From there, NiV infected neurons were visible extending through the cribriform plate into the olfactory bulb, providing direct evidence of rapid CNS entry. Subsequently, NiV disseminated to the olfactory tubercle and throughout the ventral cortex. Transmission electron microscopy on brain tissue showed extravasation of plasma cells, neuronal degeneration and nucleocapsid inclusions in affected tissue and axons, providing further evidence for axonal transport of NiV. NiV entry into the CNS coincided with the occurrence of respiratory disease, suggesting that the initial entry of NiV into the CNS occurs simultaneously with, rather than as a result of, systemic virus replication.

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