Inflammation is a necessary part of the response to infection but can also cause neuronal injury in both infectious and autoimmune diseases of the central nervous system (CNS). A neurovirulent strain of Sindbis virus (NSV) causes fatal paralysis in adult C57BL/6 mice during clearance of infectious virus from the CNS, and the virus-specific immune response is implicated as a mediator of neuronal damage. Previous studies have shown that survival is improved in T-cell-deficient mice and in mice with pharmacological inhibition of the inflammatory response and glutamate excitotoxicity. Because glutamine metabolism is important in the CNS for the generation of glutamate and in the immune system for lymphocyte proliferation, we tested the effect of the glutamine antagonist DON (6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine) on the outcome of NSV infection in mice. DON treatment for 7 days from the time of infection delayed the onset of paralysis and death. Protection was associated with reduced lymphocyte proliferation in the draining cervical lymph nodes, decreased leukocyte infiltration into the CNS, lower levels of inflammatory cytokines, and delayed viral clearance. In vitro studies showed that DON inhibited stimulus-induced proliferation of lymphocytes. When in vivo treatment with DON was stopped, paralytic disease developed along with the inflammatory response and viral clearance. These studies show that fatal NSV-induced encephalomyelitis is immune mediated and that antagonists of glutamine metabolism can modulate the immune response and protect against virus-induced neuroinflammatory disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science