Modulation of the immune response in the nervous system by rabies virus

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2005;289:239-58. doi: 10.1007/3-540-27320-4_11.


Rabies virus (RABV) is a pathogen well-adapted to the nervous system, where it infects neurons. RABV is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. It enters the nervous system via a motor neuron through the neuromuscular junction, or via a sensory nerve through nerve spindles. It then travels from one neuron to the next, along the spinal cord to the brain and the salivary glands. The virions are then excreted in the saliva of the animal and can be transmitted to another host by bite. Thus preservation of neuronal network integrity is crucial for the virus to be transmitted. Successful invasion of the nervous system by RABV seems to be the result of a subversive strategy based on the survival of infected neurons. This strategy includes protection against virus-mediated apoptosis and destruction of T cells that invade the CNS in response to infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / immunology*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / virology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Rabies / immunology*
  • Rabies / virology
  • Rabies virus / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / virology