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Open Access Theiler's Murine Encephalomyelitis Virus in Nonbarrier Rat Colonies

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Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV), a member of the genus Cardiovirus, is an enteric pathogen of mice that causes acute encephalomyelitis followed by persistent central nervous system infection with chronic inflammation and demyelination after intracerebral inoculation. Although TMEV is a mouse pathogen, antibodies against TMEV strain GDVII have been detected in conventional rat colonies. Natural infection of rats by Cardiovirus has not yet been described. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate TMEV infection of rat colonies by using serologic assays, reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis, and clinical characterization. Indirect immunofluorescence assay of rat serum samples demonstrated antibodies against TMEV-GDVII in 86.3% of samples analyzed, and 77.2% of the antibody-positive samples had neutralizing antibodies. To determine whether rats can be infected experimentally with TMEV-GDVII, specific pathogen-free newborn mice and rats were inoculated intracerebrally with intestinal suspensions from seropositive rats. Both species showed the typical clinical signs of TMEV infection in mice, which is characterized by flaccid hindlimb paralysis and tremor. RT-PCR in brain tissue of experimentally infected animals detected RNA sequences corresponding to the 5′ noncoding region of Cardiovirus known as the 'internal ribosome entry site.' These results suggest that rats can be naturally infected with TMEV and related Cardiovirus. Therefore, continued health monitoring for TMEV infection should be included in rat colonies mainly because these animals are used for various experimental purposes.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Multidisciplinary Center for Biological Investigation (CEMIB), Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Biology, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), São Paulo, Brazil 2: Laboratory of Virology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Biology, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), São Paulo, Brazil

Publication date: 2005-10-01

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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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