Distinct immune responses in resistant and susceptible strains of mice during neurovirulent alphavirus encephalomyelitis

Kirsten A. Kulcsar, Victoria K. Baxter, Rachy Abraham, Ashley Nelson, Diane E. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Susceptibility to alphavirus encephalomyelitis is dependent on a variety of factors, including the genetic background of the host. Neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV) causes uniformly fatal disease in adult C57BL/6 (B6) mice, but adult BALB/c (Bc) mice recover from infection. In B6 mice, fatal encephalomyelitis is immune mediated rather than a direct result of virus infection. To identify the immunological determinants of host susceptibility to fatal NSV-induced encephalomyelitis, we compared virus titers and immune responses in adult B6 and Bc mice infected intranasally with NSV. B6 mice had higher levels of virus replication, higher levels of type I interferon (IFN), and slower virus clearance than did Bc mice. B6 mice had more neuronal apoptosis, more severe neurologic disease, and higher mortality than Bc mice. B6 mice had more infiltration of inflammatory cells and higher levels of IL1b, IL-6, TNFa, Csf2, and CCL2 mRNAs and interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), IFN-γ, and C-C motif ligand 2 (CCL2) protein in brains than Bc mice. However, Bc mice had more brain antibody at day 7 and a higher percentage of CD4+ T cells. CD4+ T cells in the brains of Bc mice included fewer Th17 cells and more regulatory T cells (Tregs) producing IL-10 than B6 mice, accompanied by higher levels of Il2 and Cxcl10 mRNAs. In the absence of IL-10, resistant Bc mice became susceptible to fatal encephalomyelitis after NSV infection. These studies demonstrate the importance of the immune response and its regulation in determining host survival during alphavirus encephalomyelitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8280-8291
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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