Protection from fatal viral encephalomyelitis: AMPA receptor antagonists have a direct effect on the inflammatory response to infection

Ivorlyne P. Greene, Eun Young Lee, Natalie Prow, Brownhilda Ngwang, Diane E. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Neuronal cell death during fatal acute viral encephalomyelitis can result from damage caused by virus replication, glutamate excitotoxicity, and the immune response. A neurovirulent strain of the alphavirus Sindbis virus (NSV) causes fatal encephalomyelitis associated with motor neuron death in adult C57BL/6 mice that can be prevented by treatment with the prototypic non-competitive α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) glutamate receptor antagonist GYKI 52466 [Nargi-Aizenman J, et al. (2004) Ann Neurol 55:541-549]. To determine the mechanism of protection, NSV-infected mice were treated with 7-acetyl-5-(4-aminophenyl)-8(R)-methyl-8,9-dihydro-7H-1, 3-dioxolo-(4,5-h)-benzodiazepine (talampanel), a potent, orally available member of the 2,3 benzodiazepine class of noncompetitive AMPA glutamate receptor antagonists. Talampanel-treated mice were protected from NSV-induced paralysis and death. Examination of the brain during infection showed significantly less mononuclear cell infiltration and no increase in astrocyte expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein in treated mice compared with untreated mice. Lack of CNS inflammation was attributable to failure of treated mice to induce activation and proliferation of lymphocytes in secondary lymphoid tissue in response to infection. Antibody responses to NSV were also suppressed by talampanel treatment, and virus clearance was delayed. These studies reveal a previously unrecognized effect of AMPA receptor antagonists on the immune response and suggest that prevention of immune-mediated damage, in addition to inhibition of excitotoxicity, is a mechanism by which these drugs protect from death of motor neurons caused by viral infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3575-3580
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 4 2008


  • Alphavirus
  • Glutamate
  • Paralysis
  • Sindbis virus
  • Talampanel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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