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Pathogenic immunity in Theiler?s virus-induced demyelinating disease: a viral model for multiple sclerosis

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Multiple sclerosis involves inflammatory immune responses in the central nervous system and is considered as an autoimmune disease potentially associated with viral infection. The majority of experimental models rely heavily on the autoimmune components since similar diseases can be induced following immunization with various myelin antigens. A very attractive alternative model is the Theiler?s murine encephalomyelitis virus-induced demyelinating disease. This disease is primarily a CD4+ T cell-mediated, inflammatory demyelinating disease, induced following viral infection. Virus-specific inflammatory Th1 cell responses, rather than cytotoxic T lymphocyte response, play a critical role in the pathogenic immune responses. The major pathogenic epitopes have been identified and these are correlated with a Th1 type response to the epitopes following viral infection. In addition, the initial virus-specific immune response is followed by the autoimmune responses to myelin antigens. Assessment of cytokines produced locally in the CNS during the course of disease suggests involvement of inflammatory cytokines in the disease. Furthermore, the manipulation of inflammatory cytokine levels by administration of either recombinant cytokines or antibodies to the cytokines strongly influences the induction and/or progression of disease, supporting the importance of these inflammatory cytokines in this virus-induced demyelinating disease.




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B.S. Kim, Departments of Microbiology-Immunology and Pathology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL 60611, USA


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