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Abstract zur Publikation: The neuropathogenesis of Borna disease virus infections

Ludwig H, Bode L (1997): The neuropathogenesis of Borna disease virus infections
Intervirology 40: 185-197.

The unique genetic and biological properties of this small enveloped RNA virus indicate that Borna disease virus (BDV) is an evolutionary old pathogen. It appears perfectly adapted to persist inside the limbic system, a most delicate and sensitive old area of the mammalian brain involved in the control of mood, behavior, and memory. In many infected individuals, BDV remains a commensal during their lifetime. In a minority of vulnerable subjects, BDV becomes frequently activated, leading to episodes of distinct, more or less severe disturbances of information processing, behavioral and mood alterations. BDV research in humans is anticipated to initiate new insights into the interplay of exogenous and endogenous factors governing mood disorders. In nature BDV preferentially behaves as a neurotropic virus, but may latently and/or persistently infect cells of the reticuloendothelial system. This has been shown to be of great diagnostic importance, because now BDV 'footprints' can be followed in vivo in animals and man. BDV, which has long been considered as a classical animal virus, is present in humans, and has been found to be associated with some defined psychiatric disorders in particularly vulnerable individuals. An interaction of BDV proteins with neurotransmitter activities is plausible in the light of experimental animal data. Interference with normal behavior and the influence on mood and cognitive functions as demonstrated in animals and assumed in humans require extensive future research on the molecular etiopathogenesis. Aside from these clinical aspects, BDV is an unusual agent with outstanding features, namely replication in the nucleus of its target cells by an elusive, partially unknown mechanism, showing no cytopathogenicity or disturbance of vital cell functions, but altering luxury functions, and with a lifelong persistence giving rise to periods of long latency and short activation.

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