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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Journal of NeuroVirology Volume 14, Issue 5, October 2008, Pages 401-411. The published version is available at DOI: 10.1080/13550280802235924. Copyright © informaworld.


The attenuated rabies virus (RV) strain Challenge Virus Standard (CVS)-F3 and a highly pathogenic strain associated with the silver-haired bats (SHBRV) can both be cleared from the central nervous system (CNS) tissues by appropriate antiviral immune mechanisms if the effectors are provided access across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). In the case of SHBRV infection, antiviral immunity develops normally in the periphery but fails to open the BBB, generally resulting in a lethal outcome. To determine whether or not an absence in the CNS targeted immune response is associated with the infection with other pathogenic RV strains, we have assessed the development of immunity, BBB permeability, and immune cell infiltration into the CNS tissues of mice infected with a variety of RV strains, including the dog variants responsible for the majority of human rabies cases. We demonstrate that the lethal outcomes of infection with a variety of known pathogenic RV strains are indeed associated with the inability to deliver immune effectors across the BBB. Survival from infection with certain of these viruses is improved in mice prone to CNS inflammation. The results suggest that competition between the activity of the immune effectors reaching CNS tissues and the inherent pathological attributes of the virus dictates the outcome and that intervention to deliver RV-specific immune effectors into CNS tissues may have general therapeutic value in rabies.

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