Intracerebral cytokine mRNA expression during fatal and nonfatal alphavirus encephalitis suggests a predominant type 2 T cell response

Steven L. Wesselingh, Beth Levine, Robert J. Fox, Steven Choi, Diane E. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Sindbis virus (SV) causes an acute encephalomyelitis in mice. A T cell- dependent inflammatory response is first detected 3 days after infection and includes T cells, B cells, and macrophages. The cytokines produced locally by intrinsic cells of the brain in response to infection and by infiltrating mononuclear cells and their contributions to outcome of infection have not been identified. Semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR was used to evaluate the expression of mRNAs for IL-1β, IL-2, I L-4, IL-6, IL-10, TNF- α, leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), and TGF-β in the brain during fatal and nonfatal SV encephalitis of immunocompetent BALB/cJ and immunodeficient scid/CB17 mice. IL-1β and IL-6 mRNAs were detected in uninfected mice before infection and were up-regulated within 24 h. TGF-β mRNA was also constitutively expressed in uninfected mice. LIF mRNA was occasionally detected in uninfected mice but increased in amounts only in BALB/cJ not scid mice after infection. TNF-α, IL-4, and IL-10 mRNAs were not found in uninfected mice but were induced within 24 h and continued to rise through 7 days after infection with substantially higher levels in BALB/cJ than scid mice. These data suggest that intrinsic brain cells produce IL-1, IL-4, IL- 6, IL-10, LIF, and TGF-β mRNAs in response to viral infection. IFN-γ and IL-2 mRNAs were detected only in BALB/cJ mice and not until 3 days after infection with the initiation of inflammation. IL-4 and IL-10 mRNAs were more persistent and more easily detectable than IL-2 and IFN-γ mRNAs. These data suggest a predominant type 2 cytokine response in the brain during SV encephalitis. BALB/cJ mice infected with a neurovirulent strain of SV (NSV), had 100% mortality, whereas NSV-infected scid mice developed persistent nonfatal infection. Inflammation was more intense in NSV-infected mice, however, no substantial differences in cytokine mRNA levels were detected when compared with mice with nonfatal SV infection suggesting that the cytokines measured do not in and of themselves lead to fatal central nervous system disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1289-1297
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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