Infection with the mosquito-transmitted Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEE) causes an acute systemic febrile illness followed by meningoencephalitis. In this communication we characterize the cytokine profile induced in the central nervous system (CNS) in response to virulent or attenuated strains of VEE using RNase Protection Assays. Virulent VEE causes an upregulation of multiple pro-inflammatory genes including inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). To determine if iNOS and TNF-α contribute to the neuropathogenesis of VEE infection, iNOS and TNF receptor knockout mice were used in VEE mortality studies and exhibited extended survival times. Finally, CNS tissue sections labeled for VEE antigen, and adjacent sections double-labeled for an astrocyte marker and apoptosis, revealed that apoptosis of neurons occurs not only in areas of the brain positive for VEE-antigen, but also in areas of astrogliosis. These findings suggest that the inflammatory response, which is in part mediated by iNOS and TNF-α, may contribute to neurodegeneration following encephalitic virus infection. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
- Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEE)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Clinical Neurology