Slow Virus Infections of the CNS

  • Yechiel Becker
  • Julia Hadar


After the initial discovery that human kuru could be transmitted to chimpanzees after an incubation period of 18–24 months, it was found that many species of primates developed both kuru and C-J disease after extraordinarily long, silent, asymptomatic incubation periods—lasting several years in some cases (Gibbs and Gajdusek 1973). These agents demonstrate unusual resistance to various chemical and physical agents that include formaldehyde, proteases, nucleases, heat (80°C) and are incompletely inactivated at 100°C. These properties separate them from all other microorganisms. In addition, the lack of infectious nucleic acids or antigenicity, and therefore the absence of antibody production or cytopathogenic effects in infected cells in vitro and no interferon production, further indicate the unusual nature of these agents (Gajdusek 1977). In sucrose gradients, these agents aggregate and are difficult to isolate. Kuru is regarded as a subviral agent. Cell-fusing activity has been demonstrated with brain suspensions from patients with C-J (Moreau-Dubois et al. 1979).


Brain Material Scrapie Agent Cytopathogenic Effect Visna Virus Slow Virus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brooks, B.R.; Jubelt, B.; Swarz, J.R.; and Johnson, R.T. Slow viral infections. Annu. Rev. Seurosci. 2:309–340, 1979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Gajdusek, D.C. Unconventional viruses and the origin and disappearance of kuru. Science 197:943–960, 1977.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gajdusek, D.C., and Alpers, M. Genetic studies in relation to kuru. I. Cultural, historical and demographic background. Am. J. Hum. Gmet. 24, suppl:Sl–S38, 1972.Google Scholar
  4. Gibbs, C.J., Jr., and Gajdusek, D. C. Experimental subacute spongiform virus encephalopathies in primates and other laboratory animals. Science 182:67–68, 1973.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Moreau-Dubois, M.-C.; Brown, P.; and Gajdusek, D.C. Comparison of cell-fusing activity of brain suspensions from patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other degenerative neurological diseases. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 76:5365–5367, 1979.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Prusiner, S.B.; Groth, D.F.; Bildstein, C.; Masiarz, F.R.; McKinley, M.P.; and Cochran, S.P. Electrophoretic properties of the scrapie agent in agarose gels. Proc. Satl. Acad. Sci. USA 77:2984–2988, 1980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Prusiner, S.B.; Hadlow, W.J.; Eklund, C.M.; and Race, R.E. Sedimentation properties of the scrapie agent. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 74:4656–4660, 1977.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Roos, R.; Gajdusek, D.C.; and Gibbs, C.J., Jr. The clinical characteristics of transmissible Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Brain 96: 1–20, 1973.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Recommended Reading

  1. Carp, R.I.; Warner, H.B.; and Merz, G.S. Viral etiology of multiple sclerosis. Prog. Med. Virol. 24:158–177, 1978.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Fuccillo, D.A.; Kurent, J.E.; and Sever, J.L. Slow virus diseases. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 28:231–264, 1974.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gibbs, C.J., Jr., and Gajdusek, D.C. Atypical viruses as the cause of sporadic, epidemic, and familial chronic disease in man: slow viruses and human diseases. Perspect. Virol. 10:161–194, 1978.Google Scholar
  4. Prusiner, S.B., and Hadlow, W.J. (eds.) Slow Transmissible Diseases of the Nervous System. Academic Press, New York, 1979, Vols. 1 and 2.Google Scholar
  5. Ter Meulen, V., and Katz, M. (eds.). Slow Virus Infections oIthe Central Nervous System. Springer-Verlag, Basel, 1977.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yechiel Becker
    • 1
  • Julia Hadar
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Virology Institute of Microbiology, Faculty of MedicineHebrew University of JerusalemIsrael

Personalised recommendations