Neurovirulent Retrovirus of Wild Mice
A murine retrovirus (WM-E) isolated originally from a population of wild mice in Southern California  induces a neurological disease that has gained increasing attention with the advent of the encephalomyelopathies associated with human retrovirus infection. The virus resembles, in genomic structure, typical type C murine leukemia viruses. It exists in the wild as an exogenous infectious agent  transmitted from mother to offspring in the milk  and establishes a persistent productive infection throughout the life of the mouse. The incubation period of the neurological disease ranges from a few weeks to as long as a year, depending on the virus isolate and the concentration of the inoculum. The disease is characterized clinically by initial tremor and abnormal abduction reflex of the hindlimbs, progressing to frank hindlimb paralysis with neurogenic atrophy of the skeletal muscles. The pathology consists of a progressive loss of motor neurons in the ventral gray matter of the spinal cord, as well as the nuclei of the brainstem and cerebellum, associated with microglial proliferation and astrocytosis, but without inflammatory cell infiltrates . Neurons as well as glial elements undergo a vacuolar degeneration reminiscent of the spongiform encephalopathies caused by the unconventional agents. However, no evidence for accumulation of “prion protein” (syn. SAF protein) has been detected in the murine retroviral disease .
KeywordsLong Terminal Repeat Murine Leukemia Virus Wild Mouse Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis Neuronal Infection
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