Understanding the causes and consequences of measles virus persistence

Diane E. Griffin, Wen Hsuan W. Lin, Ashley N. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Measles is an acute systemic viral disease with initial amplification of infection in lymphoid tissue and subsequent spread over 10-14 days to multiple organs. Failure of the innate response to control initial measles virus (MeV) replication is associated with the ability of MeV to inhibit the induction of type I interferon and interferon-stimulated antiviral genes. Rather, the innate response is characterized by the expression of proteins regulated by nuclear factor kappa B and the inflammasome. With eventual development of the adaptive response, the rash appears with immune cell infiltration into sites of virus replication to initiate the clearance of infectious virus. However, MeV RNA is cleared much more slowly than recoverable infectious virus and remains present in lymphoid tissue for at least 6 months after infection. Persistence of viral RNA and protein suggests persistent low-level replication in lymphoid tissue that may facilitate maturation of the immune response, resulting in lifelong protection from reinfection, while persistence in other tissues (for example, the nervous system) may predispose to development of late disease such as subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. Further studies are needed to identify mechanisms of viral clearance and to understand the relationship between persistence and development of lifelong immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number237
StatePublished - 2018


  • Lymphoid tissue
  • Measles
  • RNA
  • Viruses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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