Effects of UV Inactivated West Nile Particles on Astrocytic Morphology and Expression of Marker Proteins

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Biological Sciences


West Nile virus (WNV) infection results in a spectrum of neurological symptoms ranging from a bening fever to severe West Nile neuroinvasive disease (WNND). The paralytic form of WNND has a poor prognosis, yet potential causes of neuronal death are not well understood. Significantly high levels of reactive astroglial marker proteins have been reported in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid of WNV patients. The spinal cord postmortem tissue shows areas of swollen axons, hypertrophied neuronal cell bodies, and a marked increase in astroglial reactivity. Thus, we hypothesized that factors secreted by astrocytes during or after acute WNV infection trigger neurodegeneration that contributes to WNND. To test this, astrocytic cell lines and dissociated astrocytic primary cultures from mouse brain were treated with UV inactivated WNV particles. We found significantly increased astrocyte specific factors in WNV treated astroglial cells compared with the mock controls. Real-Time PCR showed upregulated mRNA expression of some of those factors. The results suggest that higher levels of astrocytic proteins within the brain or circulating in the CSF or blood may stimulate secondary pathways leading to neurodegeneration. More studies are needed to detertmine whether these changes are associated with severe and prolonged WNV neuroinvasive disease.

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The FASEB Journal





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