Major histocompatibility complex class I expression on neurons in subacute sclerosing panencephalitis and experimental subacute measles encephalitis.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Lack of major histocompatibility class I antigens on neurons has been implicated as a possible mechanism for viral persistence in the brain since these antigens are required for cytotoxic T-lymphocyte recognition of infected cells. In subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), measles virus (MV) persists in neurons, resulting in a fatal chronic infection. MHC class I mRNA expression was examined in formalin-fixed brain tissue from 6 SSPE patients by in situ hybridization. In addition MHC class I protein expression in MV-infected neurons was examined in experimental Subacute Measles Encephalitis (SME) by double immunohistochemistry. MHC class I mRNA expression was found to be upregulated in SSPE tissues studied, and in 5 out of 6 cases the expression was definitively seen on neurons. The percentage of neurons expressing MHC class I mRNA ranged between 20 to 84% in infected areas. There was no correlation between the degree of infection and expression of MHC class I molecules on neurons. Importantly, the number of neurons co-expressing MHC class I and MV antigens was markedly low, varying between 2 to 8%. Similar results were obtained in SME where 20 to 30% of the neurons expressed MHC class I but <8% co-expressed MHC class I and MV antigens. Perivascular infiltrating cells in the infected regions in SME expressed IFNgamma immunoreactivity. The results suggest that MV may not be directly involved in the induction of MHC class I on neurons and that cytokines such as IFNgamma may play an important role. Furthermore, the paucity of neurons co-expressing MHC class I and MV antigens in SSPE and SME suggests that such cells are either rapidly cleared by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), or, alternatively, lack of co-expression of MHC class I on MV infected neurons favors MV persistence in these cells by escaping CTL recognition.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gogate, N; Swoveland, P; Yamabe, T; Verma, L; Woyciechowska, J; Tarnowska-Dziduszko, E; Dymecki, J; Dhib-Jalbut, S

Published Date

  • April 1996

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 55 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 435 - 443

PubMed ID

  • 8786403

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3069

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/00005072-199604000-00006


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England