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Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology


Small numbers of brain endothelial cells (BECs) are infected in children with neurologic complications of measles virus (MV) infection. This may provide a mechanism for virus entry into the central nervous system, but the mechanisms are unclear. Both in vitro culture systems and animal models are required to elucidate events in the endothelium. We compared the ability of wild-type (WT), vaccine, and rodent-adapted MV strains to infect, replicate, and induce apoptosis in human and murine brain endothelial cells (HBECs and MBECs, respectively). Mice also were infected intracerebrally. All MV stains productively infected HBECs and induced the MV receptor PVRL4. Efficient WT MV production also occurred in MBECs. Extensive monolayer destruction associated with activated caspase 3 staining was observed in HBECs and MBECs, most markedly with WT MV. Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), but not Fas ligand, was induced by MV infection. Treatment of MBECs with supernatants from MV-infected MBEC cultures with an anti-TRAIL antibody blocked caspase 3 expression and monolayer destruction. TRAIL was also expressed in the endothelium and other cell types in infected murine brains. This is the first demonstration that infection of low numbers of BECs with WT MV allows efficient virus production, induction of TRAIL, and subsequent widespread apoptosis.


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