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Open Access Pathogenesis of Enterotropic Mouse Hepatitis Virus in Immunocompetent and Immunodeficient Mice

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Mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) is one of the most prevalent viruses infecting laboratory mice. Most natural infections are caused by enterotropic strains. Experiments were done to compare the pathogenesis of enterotropic strain MHV-Y in immunocompetent BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice with that in B and T cell-deficient mice. In situ hybridization was used to identify sites of virus replication, and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis was used to detect viral RNA in feces and blood. MHV-Y caused acute subclinical infections restricted to the gastrointestinal tract in BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice. Viral RNA was detected in small intestine and associated lymphoid tissues of immunocompetent mice for 1 week and in cecum and colon for 2 weeks. Infected B cell-deficient mice developed chronic subclinical infection also restricted to the gastrointestinal tract. Viral RNA was detected in the small intestine, cecum, colon, and feces for 7 to 8 weeks. In contrast, infected T cell-deficient mice developed multisystemic lethal infection. During the first week, viral RNA was restricted to the gastrointestinal tract. However, by 2 weeks, mice developed peritonitis, and viral RNA was detected in mesentery and visceral peritoneum. Three to four weeks after virus inoculation, T cell-deficient mice became moribund and viral RNA was detected in multiple organ systems. These results suggest that B cells promote clearance of MHV-Y from intestinal mucosa and that T cells are required to prevent dissemination of MHV-Y from the gastrointestinal tract and associated lymphoid tissues.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Section of Comparative Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven Connecticut 06520-8016

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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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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