The immune system preferentially clears Theiler's virus from the gray matter of the central nervous system

M. Kariuki Njenga, Kunihiko Asakura, Samuel F. Hunter, Peter Wettstein, Larry R. Pease, Moses Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Infection of susceptible strains of mice with Daniel's (DA) strains of Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (DAV) results in virus persistence in the central nervous system (CNS) white matter and chronic demyelination similar to that observed in multiple sclerosis. We investigated whether persistence is due to the immune system more efficiently clearing DAV from gray than from white matter of the CNS. Severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) and immunocompetent C.B-17 mice were infected with DAV to determine the kinetics, temporal distribution, and tropism of the virus in CNS. In early disease (6 h to 7 days postinfection), DAV replicated with similar kinetics in the brains and spinal cords of SCID and immunocompetent mice and in gray and white matter. DAV RNA was localized within 48 h in CNS cells of all phenotypes, including neurons, oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, and macrophages/microglia. In late disease (13 to 17 days postinfection), SCID mice became moribund and permitted higher DAY replication in both gray and white matter. In contrast, immunocompetent mice cleared virus from the gray matter but showed replication in the white matter of their brains and spinal cords. Reconstitution of SCID mice with nonimmune splenocytes or anti-DAV antibodies after establishment of infection demonstrated that both cellular and humoral immune responses decreased virus from the gray matter; however, the cellular responses were more effective. SCID mice reconstituted with splenocytes depleted of CD4+ or CD8+ T lymphocytes cleared virus from the gray matter but allowed replication in the white matter. These studies demonstrate that both neurons and glia are infected early following DAV infection but that virus persistence in the white matter is due to preferential clearance of virus from the gray matter by the immune system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8592-8601
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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