Retina and retinal pigment epithelial cell autoantibodies are produced during murine coronavirus retinopathy

J. J. Hooks, C. Percopo, Y. Wang, B. Detrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The murine coronavirus, mouse hepatitis virus (MHV), JHM strain, induces a biphasic retinal disease in adult BALB/c mice. In the early phase of the disease, day 1 to 7, a retinal vasculitis is noted and is associated with the presence of virus particles. In the late phase of the disease, day 10 to 140, a retinal degeneration is observed and is associated with the absence of both virus particles and inflammatory cells. We show that the retinal degenerative process is also associated with the presence of antiretinal autoantibodies. In total, 22 of 23 sera collected from 10 to 70 days after JHM virus inoculation contained antiretinal autoantibodies. These autoantibodies are not found in sera from normal or mock-injected mice. Antibodies to retinal tissue were identified as two distinct patterns of immunoperoxidase staining on frozen sections of normal rat eyes, retinal autoantibodies and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) autoantibodies. The antiretinal autoantibodies first appeared as IgM class antibodies that shifted to IgG class autoantibodies. The anti-RPE cell autoantibodies were predominantly of the IgG class. Sera that were positive for these autoantibodies did not stain with liver or kidney sections but 2 of 3 did react with rat brain sections. A second mouse strain, CD-1, was also evaluated because these animals respond to JHM virus inoculation by developing only the early phase of this disease, i.e. vasculitis. On day 10 postinoculation, the retina architecture has a normal appearance. In these mice, which are free of a retinal degeneration, antiretinal autoantibodies are not produced. However, just as is noted in the BALB/c mice, antivirus neutralizing antibodies are produced in the infected CD-1 mice. These findings suggest a role for autoimmunity in the pathogenesis of murine coronavirus induced retinal degeneration. This study establishes an animal model for the study of humoral autoimmune responses in human retinal degenerations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3381-3389
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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