Role of chemokines in rabies pathogenesis and protection

Adv Virus Res. 2011;79:73-89. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-387040-7.00005-6.


Chemokines are a family of structurally related proteins that are expressed by almost all types of nucleated cells and mediate leukocyte activation and/or chemotactic activities. The role of chemokines in rabies pathogenesis and protection has only recently been investigated. Expression of chemokines is induced by infection with laboratory-adapted, but not street, rabies viruses (RABVs), and it has been hypothesized that expression of chemokines is one of the mechanisms by which RABV is attenuated. To further define the role of chemokines in rabies pathogenesis and protection, chemokine genes such as MIP-1α, RANTES, IP-10, and macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC) have been cloned into RABV genome. It has been found that recombinant RABVs expressing RANTES or IP-10 induce high and persistent expression of these chemokines, resulting in massive infiltration of inflammatory cells into the central nervous system (CNS) and development of diseases and death in the mouse model. However, recombinant RABVs expressing MIP-1α, MDC, as well as GM-CSF further attenuate RABV by inducing a transient expression of chemokines, infiltration of inflammatory cells, enhancement of blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability. Yet, these recombinant RABVs show increased adaptive immune responses by recruiting/activating dendritic cells, T and B cells in the periphery as well as in the CNS. Further, direct administration of these recombinant RABVs into the CNS can prevent mice from developing rabies days after infection with street RABV. All these studies together suggest that chemokines are both protective and pathogenic in RABV infections. Those with protective roles could be exploited for development of future RABV vaccines or therapeutic agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemokines / immunology*
  • Chemokines / toxicity*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Rabies / immunology*
  • Rabies / pathology*
  • Rabies virus / immunology*
  • Rabies virus / pathogenicity*


  • Chemokines