Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus as an experimental model system to study the mechanism of blood-brain barrier disruption

Holly L. Johnson, Fang Jin, Istvan Pirko, Aaron J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus is a widely used model to study the initiation and progression of multiple sclerosis. Many researchers have used this model to investigate how the immune system and genetic factors contribute to the disease process. Current research has highlighted the importance of cytotoxic CD8 T cells and specific major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I alleles. Our lab has adopted this concept to create a novel mouse model to study the mechanism of blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption, an integral feature of numerous neurological disorders. We have demonstrated that epitope-specific CD8 T cells cause disruption of the tight junction architecture and ensuing CNS vascular permeability in the absence of neutrophil support. This CD8 T cell-initiated BBB disruption is dependent on perforin expression. We have also elucidated a potential role for hematopoietic factors in this process. Despite having identical MHC class I molecules, similar inflammation in the CNS, and equivalent ability to utilize perforin, C57BL/6 mice are highly susceptible to this condition, while 129 SvIm mice are resistant. This susceptibility is transferable with the bone marrow compartment these findings led us to conduct a comprehensive genetic analysis which has revealed a list of candidate genes implicated in regulating traits associated with BBB disruption. Future studies will continue to define the underlying molecular mechanism of CD8 T cell-initiated BBB disruption and may assist in the development of potential therapeutic approaches to ameliorate pathology associated with BBB disruption in neurological disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-112
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurovirology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • CD8 T cell
  • CNS vascular permeability
  • Peptide-induced fatal syndrome
  • Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Virology


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