Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV), a naturally occurring, enteric pathogen of mice is a Cardiovirus of the Picornaviridae family. Low neurovirulent TMEV strains such as BeAn cause a severe demyelinating disease in susceptible SJL
mice following intracerebral infection. Furthermore, TMEV infections of C57BL/6
mice cause acute polioencephalitis initiating a process of epileptogenesis that results in spontaneous recurrent epileptic seizures in approximately 50% of affected mice. Moreover, C3H
mice develop cardiac lesions after an intraperitoneal high-dose application of TMEV. Consequently, TMEV-induced diseases are widely used as animal models for multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and myocarditis. The present review summarizes morphological lesions and pathogenic mechanisms triggered by TMEV with a special focus on the development of hippocampal degeneration and seizures in C57BL/6
mice as well as demyelination in the spinal cord in SJL
mice. Furthermore, a detailed description of innate and adaptive immune responses is given. TMEV studies provide novel insights into the complexity of organ- and mouse strain-specific immunopathology and help to identify factors critical for virus persistence.
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