Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus induces rapid necrosis and delayed apoptosis in myelinated mouse cerebellar explant cultures. Academic Article uri icon


  • Infection with the Daniel strain of Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis (TMEV-DA) virus induces persistent demyelinating lesions in mice and serves as a model for multiple sclerosis. During the acute phase of the disease, however, viral infection leads to cell death in vivo. Viral-induced death may result directly from viral infection of neural cells, or indirectly, by activation of the immune system. To examine the direct effects of TMEV infection on neural cells, myelinated explant cultures of the murine cerebellum were infected with 10(5) pfu of TMEV-DA for periods ranging from 1 to 72 h. Our results indicate that TMEV-DA replicates in cultured neural tissue. Initially, viral antigen is localized to a few isolated neural cells. However, within 72 h antigen was observed in multiple foci that included damaged cells and extracellular debris. Viral infection led to a rapid and cyclical induction of necrosis with a time period that was consistent with the lytic phase of the viral life-cycle. Simultaneously, we observed an increase in apoptosis 48 h post-infection. Electron micrographic analysis indicated that viral-infected cultures contained cells with fragmented nuclei and condensed cytoplasm, characteristic of apoptosis. The localization of apoptosis to the cerebellar granule cell layer, identified these cells as presumptive granule neurons. Viral infection, however, did not lead to myelin damage, though damaged axons were visible in TMEV-infected cultures. These results suggest that during the acute phase of infection, TMEV targets neural cells for apoptosis without directly disrupting myelin. Myelin damage may therefore result from the activation of the immune system.

published proceedings

  • Brain Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Anderson, R., Harting, E., Frey, M. S., Leibowitz, J. L., & Miranda, R. C.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Anderson, R||Harting, E||Frey, MS||Leibowitz, JL||Miranda, RC

publication date

  • June 2000