Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus-induced cardiac and skeletal muscle disease

J Virol. 1996 Dec;70(12):8926-33. doi: 10.1128/JVI.70.12.8926-8933.1996.


The DA strain of Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus, a member of the cardiovirus genus of picornaviruses, induces a restricted and persistent infection associated with a demyelinating process following intracerebral inoculation of mice; both virus infection and the immune response are believed to contribute to the late white matter disease. We now report that intraperitoneal inoculation with DA produces an acute myositis that progresses to a chronic inflammatory muscle disease in CD-1 mice as well as several inbred mouse strains. Some mouse strains also develop central nervous system white matter disease and a focal myocarditis. Infectious virus in skeletal muscle falls to undetectable levels 3 weeks postinoculation (p.i.), although viral genome persists for at least 12 weeks p.i., the longest period of observation. Severe combined immunodeficient animals have evidence of muscle pathology as long as 5 weeks p.i., suggesting that DA virus is capable of inducing chronic muscle disease in the absence of an immune response. The presence in immunocompetent mice, however, of prominent muscle inflammation in the absence of infectious virus suggests that the immune system also contributes to the pathology. T lymphocytes are the predominant cell type infiltrating the skeletal muscle during the chronic disease. This murine model may further our understanding of virus-induced chronic myositis and help to clarify the pathogenesis of human inflammatory myopathies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral / analysis
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Line
  • Cricetinae
  • Macrophages / classification
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Mice, SCID
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / immunology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / virology
  • Myocarditis / immunology*
  • Myocarditis / pathology
  • Myocarditis / virology
  • Myositis / immunology*
  • Myositis / pathology
  • Myositis / virology
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • T-Lymphocytes / classification
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Theilovirus / genetics
  • Theilovirus / immunology*
  • Theilovirus / isolation & purification


  • Antigens, Viral
  • RNA, Viral