Persistent measles virus infection of mouse neural cells lacking known human entry receptors

Hani'ah Abdullah, Philip Earle, Tom Gardiner, F. Tangy, Louise Cosby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: Infection of the mouse central nervous system with wild type (WT) and vaccine strains of measles virus (MV) results in lack of clinical signs and limited antigen detection. It is considered that cell entry receptors for these viruses are not present on murine neural cells and infection is restricted at cell entry.

Methods: To examine this hypothesis, virus antigen and caspase 3 expression (for apoptosis) was compared in primary mixed, neural cell cultures infected in vitro or prepared from mice infected intracerebrally with WT, vaccine or rodent neuroadapted viruses. Viral RNA levels were examined in mouse brain by nested and real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction.

Results: WT and vaccine strains were demonstrated for the first time to infect murine oligodendrocytes in addition to neurones despite a lack of the known MV cell receptors. Unexpectedly, the percentage of cells positive for viral antigen was higher for WT MV than neuroadapted virus in both in vitro and ex vivo cultures. In the latter the percentage of positive cells increased with time after mouse infection. Viral RNA (total and mRNA) was detected in brain for up to 20 days, while cultures were negative for caspase 3 in WT and vaccine virus infections.

Conclusions: WT and vaccine MV strains can use an endogenous cell entry receptor(s) or alternative virus uptake mechanism in murine neural cells. However, viral replication occurs at a low level and is associated with limited apoptosis. WT MV mouse infection may provide a model for the initial stages of persistent MV human central nervous system infections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-486
Number of pages14
JournalNeuropathology and Applied Neurobiology
Issue number5
Early online date31 Mar 2009
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Histology
  • Physiology (medical)

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