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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the major cause of respiratory illness in infants worldwide. Neurologic alterations, such as seizures and ataxia, have been associated with RSV infection. We demonstrate the presence of RSV proteins and RNA in zones of the brain--such as the hippocampus, ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus, and brainstem--of infected mice. One month after disease resolution, rodents showed behavioral and cognitive impairment in marble burying (MB) and Morris water maze (MWM) tests. Our data indicate that the learning impairment caused by RSV is a result of a deficient induction of long-term potentiation in the hippocampus of infected animals. In addition, immunization with recombinant bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) expressing RSV nucleoprotein prevented behavioral disorders, corroborating the specific effect of RSV infection over the central nervous system. Our findings provide evidence that RSV can spread from the airways to the central nervous system and cause functional alterations to the brain, both of which can be prevented by proper immunization against RSV.

Original publication

DOI

10.1073/pnas.1217508110

Type

Journal article

Journal

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Publication Date

06/05/2013

Volume

110

Pages

9112 - 9117

Addresses

Millenium Institute on Immunology and Immunotherapy, Departamento de Genética Molecular y Microbiología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago 8331010, Chile.

Keywords

Brain, T-Lymphocytes, Animals, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Mice, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Mycobacterium bovis, Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections, Learning Disorders, Viral Proteins, RNA, Viral, Viral Vaccines, Maze Learning, Long-Term Potentiation