Interferon gamma modulation of disease manifestation and the local antibody response to alphavirus encephalomyelitis

Victoria K. Baxter, Diane E. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Infection of mice with Sindbis virus (SINV) produces encephalomyelitis and provides a model for examination of the central nervous system (CNS) immune response to alphavirus infection. Clearance of infectious virus is accomplished through a cooperative effort between SINV-specific antibody and IFN-g, but the regulatory interactions are poorly understood. To determine the effects of IFN-γ on clinical disease and the antiviral immune response, C57BL/6 mice lacking IFN-γ (Ifng-/-) or IFN-γ receptor (Ifngr1-/-) were studied in comparison to WT mice. Maximum production of Ifng mRNA and IFN-γ protein in the CNS of WT and Ifngr1-/- mice occurred 5– 7days after infection, with higher levels of IFN-γ in Ifngr1-/- mice. Onset of clinical disease was earlier in mice with impaired IFN-γ signalling, although Ifngr1-/- mice recovered more rapidly. Ifng-/- and Ifngr1-/- mice maintained body weight better than WT mice, associated with better food intake and lower brain levels of inflammatory cytokines. Clearance of infectious virus from the spinal cords was slower, and CNS, but not serum, levels of SINV-specific IgM, IgG2a and IgG2b were lower in Ifngr1-/- and Ifng-/- mice compared to WT mice. Decreased CNS antiviral antibody was associated with lower expression of mRNAs for B-cell attracting chemokines CXCL9, CXCL10 and CXCL13 and fewer B cells in the CNS. Therefore, IFN-γ signalling increases levels of CNS pro-inflammatory cytokines, leading to clinical disease, but synergistically clears virus with SINV-specific antibody at least in part by increasing chemokine production important for infiltration of antibody-secreting B cells into the CNS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number000613
Pages (from-to)2907-2924
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of General Virology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2016


  • B cells
  • CNS antibody response
  • Sindbis virus
  • TNF
  • Viral encephalomyelitis
  • Virus clearance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


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