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      Detection of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus in the Brain: Potential Role of the Chemokine Mig in Pathogenesis


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          Background. Previous studies have shown that common human coronavirus might be neurotropic, although it was first isolated as a pathogen of the respiratory tract. We noticed that a few patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) experienced central nervous symptoms during the course of illness. In the present study, we isolated a SARS coronavirus strain from a brain tissue specimen obtained from a patient with SARS with significant central nervous symptoms.

          Methods. Using transmission electronic microscopy and nested reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction, the causative pathogen was identified in cultures of a brain tissue specimen obtained from the patient with SARS. Histopathologic examination of the brain tissue was performed using the methods of immunohistochemistry analysis and double immunofluorescence staining. Fifteen cytokines and chemokines were detected in the blood of the patient with SARS by means of a bead-based multiassay system.

          Results. A fragment specific for SARS human coronavirus was amplified from cultures of the brain suspension, and transmission electronic microscopy revealed the presence of an enveloped virus morphologically compatible with a coronavirus isolated in the cultures. Pathologic examination of the brain tissue revealed necrosis of neuron cells and broad hyperplasia of gliocytes. Immunostaining demonstrated that monokine induced by interferon-Γ (Mig) was expressed in gliocytes with the infiltration of CD68 + monocytes/macrophages and CD3 + T lymphocytes in the brain mesenchyme. Cytokine/chemokine assay revealed that levels of interferon-Γ–inducible protein 10 and Mig in the blood were highly elevated, although the levels of other cytokines and chemokines were close to normal.

          Conclusions. This study provides direct evidence that SARS human coronavirus is capable of infecting the central nervous system, and that Mig might be involved in the brain immunopathology of SARS.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Identification of a Novel Coronavirus in Patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

          The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has recently been identified as a new clinical entity. SARS is thought to be caused by an unknown infectious agent. Clinical specimens from patients with SARS were searched for unknown viruses with the use of cell cultures and molecular techniques. A novel coronavirus was identified in patients with SARS. The virus was isolated in cell culture, and a sequence 300 nucleotides in length was obtained by a polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR)-based random-amplification procedure. Genetic characterization indicated that the virus is only distantly related to known coronaviruses (identical in 50 to 60 percent of the nucleotide sequence). On the basis of the obtained sequence, conventional and real-time PCR assays for specific and sensitive detection of the novel virus were established. Virus was detected in a variety of clinical specimens from patients with SARS but not in controls. High concentrations of viral RNA of up to 100 million molecules per milliliter were found in sputum. Viral RNA was also detected at extremely low concentrations in plasma during the acute phase and in feces during the late convalescent phase. Infected patients showed seroconversion on the Vero cells in which the virus was isolated. The novel coronavirus might have a role in causing SARS. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Plasma inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in severe acute respiratory syndrome

             C Wong,  C W K Lam,  A K L Wu (2004)
            Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a recently emerged infectious disease caused by a novel coronavirus, but its immunopathological mechanisms have not yet been fully elucidated. We investigated changes in plasma T helper (Th) cell cytokines, inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in 20 patients diagnosed with SARS. Cytokine profile of SARS patients showed marked elevation of Th1 cytokine interferon (IFN)-γ, inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6 and IL-12 for at least 2 weeks after disease onset, but there was no significant elevation of inflammatory cytokine tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10, Th1 cytokine IL-2 and Th2 cytokine IL-4. The chemokine profile demonstrated significant elevation of neutrophil chemokine IL-8, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and Th1 chemokine IFN-γ-inducible protein-10 (IP-10). Corticosteroid reduced significantly IL-8, MCP-1 and IP-10 concentrations from 5 to 8 days after treatment (all P < 0·001). Together, the elevation of Th1 cytokine IFN-γ, inflammatory cytokines IL-1, IL-6 and IL-12 and chemokines IL-8, MCP-1 and IP-10 confirmed the activation of Th1 cell-mediated immunity and hyperinnate inflammatory response in SARS through the accumulation of monocytes/macrophages and neutrophils.
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              Characterization of cytokine/chemokine profiles of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

               S. Zhong,  PENG DENG,  Q Qin (2005)
              There is currently no optimal treatment or effective drug for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), because the immunopathologic mechanism is poorly understood. To explore the immune mechanism underlying the pathogenesis of SARS, we studied the expression profile of cytokines/chemokines in the blood and the immunopathology of the lung and lymphoid tissues. Fourteen cytokines/chemokines in the blood of 23 patients with SARS were dynamically screened, using a bead-based multiassay system. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was performed to amplify mRNA. Histopathology of the lung and lymphoid tissues at autopsy was examined, using methods of immunohistochemistry and double immunofluorescence staining. Interferon-inducible protein-10 (IP-10) was markedly elevated in the blood during the early stage of SARS, and remained at a high level until convalescence. Moreover, IP-10 was highly expressed in both lung and lymphoid tissues, where monocyte-macrophage infiltration and depletion of lymphocytes were observed. The levels of interleukin-6, interleukin-8, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 were concomitantly increased in the blood of the patients with superinfection, and the mRNAs for these cytokines were also increased in lung tissues. Induction of IP-10 is a critical event in the initiation of immune-mediated acute lung injury and lymphocyte apoptosis during the development of SARS. Superinfection after the immune injury is the main cause of death. The prompt elevation of interleukin-6, interleukin-8, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 is a sign of superinfection, indicating a high risk of death.

                Author and article information

                Clin Infect Dis
                Clin. Infect. Dis
                Clinical Infectious Diseases: An Official Publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America
                The University of Chicago Press
                15 October 2005
                15 October 2005
                15 October 2005
                : 41
                : 8
                : 1089-1096
                [1 ] Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases , Guangzhou, People's Republic of China
                [2 ] Key Laboratory of Functional Proteomics of Guangdong Province, Southern Medical University , Guangzhou, People's Republic of China
                [3 ] Guangzhou Center for Diseases Control and Prevention , Guangzhou, People's Republic of China
                [4 ] Electronic Microscope Center, Sun Yatsen University , Guangzhou, People's Republic of China
                Author notes
                Reprints or correspondence: Dr. Yong Jiang, Key Laboratory of Functional, Proteomics of Guangdong Province, Dept. of Pathophysiology, Southern Medical University, Tonghe, Guangzhou 510515, People's Republic of China ( yjiang@ 123456fimmu.com ).
                © 2005 by the Infectious Diseases Society of America

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

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