Genetic predisposition to coronavirus-induced retinal disease

Yun Wang, Miguel Burnier, Barbara Detrick, John J. Hooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose. Retinal inflammatory and degenerative processes in humans and animals frequently are associated with genetic factors. The murine coronavirus, mouse hepatitis virus (MHV), JHM strain, induces a biphasic retinal disease in adult BALB/c mice. The genetic constitution of the host and the virus serotype can be critical factors in determining the outcome of a virus infection. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the possible role of host genetics in murine coronavirus-induced retinal disease. Methods. JHM virus was inoculated by the intravitreal route into BALB/c, CD-1, and A/J mice. At varying times after inoculation, eye tissues were evaluated histologically. Antibody responses to the virus were evaluated by neutralization assays. Results. JHM virus induces a biphasic retinal disease in BALB/c mice. In the early phase, 1 to 7 days after inoculation, retinal vasculitis is observed. The second phase, characterized by retinal degeneration in the absence of inflammation, is seen by day 10 and progresses for several months. There is a similar biphasic disease process in JHM virus- infected A/J mice. However, retinal changes are less severe than those seen in BALB/c mice. Retinal tissue damage induced by JHM virus in CD-1 mice is different. Only the early phase of the disease, consisting of retinal vasculitis, was observed. These CD-1 mice do not develop the retinal degenerative disease. In fact, after day 10, the retina has a normal appearance. These differences in retinal tissue damage are seen over a wide range of infectivity of the virus inocula. Virus concentrations ranging from 101.4 to 104.4 TCID50/5 μl were capable of inducing both inflammation and degeneration in BALB/c mice, whereas, the highest concentration of virus (104.4 TCID50/5 μl) in CD-1 mice resulted in only the early inflammatory changes. Conclusions. The authors show that the genetics of the host can profoundly affect the nature of retinal tissue damage. These studies substantiate the concept that a virus can indeed trigger retinal degenerative processes in genetically susceptible hosts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-254
Number of pages5
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • coronavirus
  • genetic disease
  • retinal degeneration
  • retinal inflammation
  • viral infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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