Journal of virology

Disassociation between the in vitro and in vivo effects of nitric oxide on a neurotropic murine coronavirus.

PMID 9032354


Intranasal inoculation of the neuroattenuated OBLV60 strain of mouse hepatitis virus results in infection of mitral neurons in the olfactory bulb, followed by spread along olfactory and limbic pathways to the brain. Immunocompetent BALB/c mice were able to clear virus by 11 days postinfection (p.i.). Gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) may play a role in clearance of OBLV60 from infected immunocompetent BALB/c mice through a nonlytic mechanism. Among the variety of immunomodulatory activities of IFN-gamma is the induction of expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), an enzyme responsible for the production of nitric oxide (NO). Studies were undertaken to investigate the role of IFN-gamma and NO in host defense and clearance of OBLV60 from the central nervous system (CNS). Exposure of OBLV60-infected OBL21a cells, a mouse neuronal cell line, to the NO-generating compound S-nitroso-L-acetyl penicillamine resulted in a significant decrease in viral replication, indicating that NO interfered with viral replication. Furthermore, infection of IFN-gamma knockout (GKO) mice and athymic nude mice with OBLV60 resulted in low-level expression of iNOS mRNA and protein in the brains compared to that of OBLV60-infected BALB/c mice. Nude mice were unable to clear virus and eventually died between days 11 and 14 p.i. (B. D. Pearce, M. V. Hobbs, T. S. McGraw, and M. J. Buchmeier, J. Virol. 68:5483-5495, 1994); however, GKO mice survived infection and cleared virus by day 18 p.i. These data suggest that IFN-gamma production in the olfactory bulb contributed to but may not be essential for clearance of OBLV60 from the brain. In addition, treatment of OBLV60-infected BALB/c mice with aminoguanidine, a selective inhibitor of iNOS activity, did not result in any increase in mortality, and the mice cleared the virus by 11 days p.i. These data suggest that although NO was able to block replication of virus in vitro, expression of iNOS with NO release in vivo did not appear to be the determinant factor in clearance of OBLV60 from CNS neurons.