Experimental measles encephalitis in Lewis rats: dissemination of infected neuronal cell subtypes
Acute measles may lead in rare instances to the chronic progressive central nervous system disease process subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). SSPE results from a persistent measles virus (MV) infection with incomplete virus replication involving the entire human brain. The experimental encephalitis model in Lewis rats was used to define affected cell populations after infection with the neurotropic MV strain CAM/RB. Distribution patterns of MV were analysed by appropriate cell markers in the brain sections of infected animals employing multiple immunofluorescence labelling and confocal laser scanning microscopy. MV was detected in neurones but not in astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, microglia, and endothelial cells. GABAergic and glutamatergic neurons displayed MV antigen whereas cholinergic and catecholaminergic neurons appeared devoid of MV immunoreactivity. Mapping of the rat brain has revealed MV-infected neurones predominantly in motor, somatosensory, auditory, and visual cortices as well as in the basal ganglia and thalamic nuclei of infected rats. The results indicate that MV apparently disseminates via GABAergic and glutaminergic neurones and their processes. The tightly restricted viral distribution pattern is consistent with both inefficient immune clearance from infected neurones and with the observed disease symptoms.