Newborn rats inoculated with Borna disease virus (BDV) develop a persistent, tolerant nervous system infection (PTI-NB), with no signs of encephalitis or Borna disease. We measured body weight, body length, taste preferences, and spontaneous locomotor activity over a 4-month period in PTI-NB and control rats. PTI-NB rats had decreased weight and length but not detectable disturbances in growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 biosynthesis as compared to control rats. In single bottle taste acceptance tests, PTI-NB rats did not differ from controls and drank normal amounts of all solutions. When offered a choice of solutions in two-bottle taste preference tests, PTI-NB rats exhibited a normal preference for saccharin and a normal aversion for quinine, but an exaggerated preference for saline. At 1 and 4 months of age, PTI-NB rats were significantly more active than normal rats, although only 1-month-old PTI-NB rats had increased daytime activity. Thus, even in the absence of encephalitis, BDV infection of the PTI-NB rat is associated with a number of physiological and behavioral abnormalities.
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