Protection by dehydroepiandrosterone in mice infected with viral encephalitis


Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has a significant protective effect in mice infected with West Nile virus (WNV), Sindbis virus neurovirulent (SVNI) and Semliki Forest virus (SFV). Mice injected subcutaneously (SC) with a single injection of DHEA (1 g/kg) on the same day or one day pre or post infection with WNV resulted in 40–50% mortality as compared to 100% in control injected mice (p<0.05). The drug was effective following a single SC injection or serial intraperitoneal (IP) injections (5–20mg/kg) on days 0, 2, 4, and 6 following virus inoculation. Moreover, DHEA injection not only reduced viremia and death rate, but also significantly delayed the onset of the disease and mortality. The titers of antivirus antibodies in surviving mice were very high. However, DHEA had no effect on WNV growth in BHK or Vero cell cultures. In this study it was shown that DHEA protects mice against WNV, SVNI and SFV lethal infection. Though the mechanism of the protective effect of DHEA is still unknown, it seems that DHEA can modify the host resistance mechanisms rather than the virus itself.

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Ben-Nathan, D., Lachmi, B., Lustig, S. et al. Protection by dehydroepiandrosterone in mice infected with viral encephalitis. Archives of Virology 120, 263–271 (1991).

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  • Encephalitis
  • West Nile Virus
  • DHEA
  • Vero Cell
  • Post Infection