Measles encephalomyelitis: Lack of evidence of viral invasion of the central nervous system and quantitative study of the nature of demyelination

Howard E. Gendelman, Jerry S. Wolinsky, Richard T. Johnson, Norman J. Pressman, Gholam H. Pezeshkpour, Gerardo F. Boisset

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Measles encephalomyelitis appears to be an immune‐mediated parainfectious disorder, but it is unclear whether viral invasion of brain is an obligate step in its development. Immunocytochemical methods were used to search for virus antigen in formalin‐fixed, paraffin‐embedded central nervous system (CNS) tissues from 10 patients with measles encephalomyelitis and 12 patients who had died of measles without CNS involvement. All the CNS tissues studied were viral antigen negative. Similarly fixed CNS tissues from all of 6 patients with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis were viral antigen positive and served as controls. The pattern of perivenular demyelination was also determined in 4 cases of measles encephalomyelitis using antibodies to myelin associated glycoprotein and myelin basic protein and a Luxol fast blue stain. Areas of demyelination in serial sections were quantitated, and no morphometrical differences were found among tissues stained with the three stains. The data suggest the lack of virus replication in the CNS during encephalomyelitis or fatal measles without CNS symptoms. The pattern of loss of myelin associated glycoprotein and myelin basic protein in regions of perivenular demyelination resembles that reported in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis. This pattern of demyelination has been proposed to result from a primary attack on the myelin sheath rather than from direct involvement of the oligodendroglial cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-360
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1984


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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