Avian influenza virus intranasally inoculated infects the central nervous system of mice through the general visceral afferent nerve
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To define the route of influenza virus invasion into the central nervous system (CNS), an avian influenza A (H5N3) virus was inoculated into mice intranasally or intravenously. Only the intranasal infection group mice showed depression and retention of gas in the digestive system. Pathological findings in the animals were bronchointerstitial pneumonia and non-suppurative encephalitis restricted to the brain stem. The nerve nucleus primarily affected was the nucleus of solitary tract. Prior to the development of the CNS lesions, viral antigen was detected in vagal and trigeminal ganglia. These results suggest that the primarily replicated virus in the respiratory mucosa ascended to the CNS via sensory nerve routes, inducing lesions in the brain stem, and then spread trans-synaptically in the CNS.
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