Among the enteroviruses, polioviruses and enterovirus 71 (EV71) are two major neurotropic viruses causing serious neurological manifestations. While polioviruses are being eradicated globally by vaccination, EV71 still has the potential to cause a large outbreak such as that in Taiwan in 1998, in which there were many fatalities. In this study, we determined the neurovirulence of EV71 by neuropathological analysis of cynomolgus monkeys after experimental infection with five EV71 strains, which were isolated from individual patients with fatal encephalitis; meningitis; and hand, foot, and mouth disease. After intraspinal inoculation, the monkeys developed neurological manifestations within 1-6 days post-inoculation, irrespective of the inoculated strains. These manifestations included not only pyramidal tract signs such as flaccid paralysis, but also extrapyramidal tract signs such as tremor and ataxia. Histological and viral examinations confirmed virus replication in the spinal cord, brainstem, cerebellar cortex, and dentate nuclei, and cerebrum. The strains isolated during the 1970s and 1990s showed no particular differences with respect to neurotropism. Thus, it is clear that EV71 has a wider neurotropism than that of polioviruses.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.