Pathogenesis of Human Poliovirus Infection in Mice: I. Clinical and Pathological Studies

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Human poliovirus infection in mice was studied to determine the similarities to human poliomyelitis, the selective vulnerability of neurons to infection, the role of the immune response in age-dependent susceptibility, and possible viral persistence. Mice inoculated intracerebrally (ic) with the Lansing type 2 poliovirus developed a disease with clinical, pathological, and age-dependent features resembling human poliomyelitis. Adult mice had a shorter incubation period (50% paralysis, Day 8 vs. Day 13) and a higher incidence of paralysis (97% vs. 79%) than newborns. Only paralyzed animals had pathologic changes in the spinal cord, and these corresponded to the degree of paralysis. Fluorescent antibody staining showed that selective infection of neurons was most intense in the anterior horn motor neurons of the spinal cord. There was no extraneural virus replication and no systemic neutralizing antibody response. Cyclophosphamide immunosuppression enhanced rather than diminished disease, indicating that maturation of immune responses did not explain the relative resistance of newborns to paralysis.

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