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Open Access Pathogenesis of Mouse Hepatitis Virus Infection in Gamma Interferon-Deficient Mice Is Modulated by Co-infection with Helicobacter hepaticus

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Gamma interferon-deficient (IFN- KO) mice developed a wasting syndrome and were found to be co-infected with Helicobacter sp., and a new isolate of mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) designated MHV-G. The disease was characterized by pleuritis, peritonitis, hepatitis, pneumonia, and meningitis. Initial experiments used a cecal homogenate inoculum from the clinical cases that contained H. hepaticus and MHV-G to reproduce the development of peritonitis and pleuritis in IFN- KO mice. In contrast, immunocompetent mice given the same inoculum developed an acute, self-limiting infection and remained clinically normal. This result confirmed the importance of IFN- in preventing chronic infection and limiting viral dissemination. To understand the role of both agents in the development of peritonitis and pleuritis, IFN- KO mice were infected with either agent or were co-infected with H. hepaticus and MHV-G. Infection with MHV-G induced a multisystemic infection similar to that described in the original cases, with multifocal hepatic necrosis, acute necrotizing and inflammatory lesions of the gastrointestinal tract, and acute peritonitis and pleuritis with adhesions on the serosal surfaces of the viscera. However, mice given H. hepaticus alone had minimal pathologic changes even though the organism was consistently detected in the cecum or feces. Although co-infection with H. hepaticus and MHV-G induced lesions similar to those associated with MHV-G alone, the pathogenesis of the MHV infection was modified. Helicobacter hepaticus appeared to reduce the severity of MHV-induced lesions during the acute phase of infection, and exacerbated hepatitis and meningitis at the later time point. We conclude that infection of IFN- KO mice with MHV-G results in multisystemic infection with peritonitis, pleuritis, and adhesions due to the aberrant immune response in these mice. In addition, co-infection of these mice with H. hepaticus results in alterations in the pathogenesis of MHV-G infection.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Section of Comparative Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, P.O. Box 208016, New Haven Connecticut 06520-8016

Publication date: 01 April 2003

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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