Outcome of challenge with coxsackievirus B4 in young mice after maternal infection with the same virus during gestation

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Enteroviral infections go usually unnoticed, even during pregnancy, yet some case histories and mouse experiments indicate that these viruses may be transmitted vertically. More frequently, however, transmission occurs by (fecal) contamination during and shortly after birth. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of maternal infection in mice (1) on gravidity outcome and (2) on subsequent challenge of the offspring with the same virus. CD1 outbred female mice were infected by the oral route with coxsackievirus B4 strain E2 or mock-infected at days 4, 10, or 17 of gestation. Weight and signs of sickness were noted daily. Pups were infected at day 25 after birth (4 days postweaning). Organs (brain, pancreas, and heart) were analyzed for viral RNA and histopathology. We observed that maternal infection at day 4 or day 17 of gestation had little effect on pregnancy outcome, whereas infection at day 10 affected dams and/or offspring. Infection of pups resulted in severe inflammation of the pancreas, but only when dams were previously infected, especially at day 17. The blood glucose levels were elevated. Because no trace of infection was found at the time of challenge, a role for immunopathology is suggested.

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