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Experimental biology and pathogenesis of Junin virus infection in animals and man*

By M. C. Weissenbacher, L. B. De Guerrero and M. C. Boxaca


A fatal disease resembling Argentine haemorrhagic fever of man has been produced in guinea-pigs and mice by inoculation with Junin virus. Infected guinea-pigs show macroscopic and microscopic haemorrhagic lesions, marked bone marrow changes, decreased leukocytes and platelets in the peripheral blood, and impairment of immunological response. This response permits differentiation between pathogenic (XJ) and attenuated (XJ Cl3) strains. Guinea-pigs inoculated with the XJ Cl3 strain develop an inapparent infection accompanied by slight haematological changes, the appearance of antibody, and protection against challenge with the pathogenic strain. The attenuated strain has been used successfully as an immunizing antigen in 636 human volunteers. Guinea-pigs infected with Tacaribe virus show cross-protection against Junin virus, with the presence of heterologous neutralizing antibodies. Suckling mice infected with Junin virus develop a typical viral encephalitis; the pathogenicity of the virus decreases with increasing age of the mice. Experiments with thymectomized mice and with mice treated with antithymocyte serum suggest that the pathogenicity of Junin virus in this host is related to the integrity of the thymus-dependent immune system. There is evidence that humoral antibodies do not play any role in the development of the encephalitic lesions but rather protect mice against Junin virus infection. A recent serological survey among laboratory workers and inhabitants of the endemic area has demonstrated the presence of inapparent infection with Junin virus

Topics: Session II—Pathology and Pathogenesis
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