Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 77, Issue 3, pp 299–306 | Cite as

Expression of viral antigens in the central nervous system of visna-infected sheep: an immunohistochemical study on experimentsl visna induced by virus strains of increased neurovirulence

  • G. Georgsson
  • D. J. Houwers
  • P. A. Pálsson
  • G. Pétursson
Regular Papers


Icelandic sheep were infected by intracerebral inoculation with visna virus strains of increased neurovirulence. The character and severity of pathological lesions were studied in brains from four sheep that developed clinical signs 5 to 12 weeks after infection. Viral antigens were identified by immunostaining using mouse monoclonal antibodies against two core proteins and the Avidin-Biotin method of detection. The pathological lesions were in general more severe than observed following infection with the parent strain K1514. Primary demyelination, a late manifestation of infection with K1514, was detected. Thus, in addition to causing more severe pathological lesions, these neurovirulent strains apparently have an increased potential to induce primary demyelination. Viral antigens were detected in lymphocytes, plasma cells, macrophages, endothelial cells, pericytes, fibroblasts and choroidal epithelial cells. Neurons and glial cells were antigen negative. The spectrum of infected cells in the brain was similar to that observed in infections with human immunodeficiency virus. These results do not support the view that the demyelination is caused by immunological damage to infected oligodendrocytes. A perturbation of the function of oligodendrocytes through a non-productive infection could be the underlying pathogenetic mechanism and/or a non-specific demyelination due to the intense inflammatory reaction.

Key words

Visna Neurovirulence Demyelination Antigen Brain 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Georgsson
    • 1
  • D. J. Houwers
    • 2
  • P. A. Pálsson
    • 1
  • G. Pétursson
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Experimental PathologyUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland
  2. 2.Central Veterinary InstituteLelystadThe Netherlands

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