Reduced frequency of murine cytomegalovirus retinitis in C57BL/6 mice correlates with low levels of suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS)1 and SOCS3 expression within the eye during corticosteroid-induced immunosuppression

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AIDS-related human cytomegalovirus retinitis remains a leading cause of blindness worldwide. We compared two C57BL/6 mouse models of experimental murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) retinitis for intraocular expression of suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS)1 and SOCS3, host proteins that are inducible negative feedback regulators of cytokine signaling. These mouse models differed in method of immune suppression, one by retrovirus-induced immune suppression (MAIDS) and the other by corticosteroid-induced immune suppression. Following subretinal injection of MCMV to induce retinitis, intraocular SOCS1 and SOCS3 were only mildly stimulated, and often without significance, within MCMV-infected eyes during the progression of MCMV retinitis in corticosteroid-immunosuppressed mice, contrary to MCMV-infected eyes of mice with MAIDS that showed significant high stimulation of SOCS1 and SOCS3 expression in agreement with previous findings. Frequency and severity of retinitis as well as amounts of intraocular infectious MCMV in corticosteroid-immunosuppressed mice were also unexpectedly lower than values previously reported for MAIDS animals during MCMV retinitis. These data reveal a major difference between two mouse models of experimental MCMV retinitis and suggest a possible link between the amplitude of SOCS1 and SOCS3 stimulation and severity of disease in these models.

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