Intracerebral inoculation of susceptible strains of mice with Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) results in immune-mediated demyelinating disease. We examined the pathogenic roles of nitric oxide (NO) and inducible NO synthase (iNOS) in TMEV-induced demyelinating disease (TMEV- IDD). The presence of iNOS was confirmed in the spinal cords of TMEV-infected mice using immunohistochemical staining with anti-iNOS antibody on day 0 (control) and days 15, 30, 60, and 120. Aminoguanidine (AG), a specific inhibitor of iNOS, was injected intraperitoneally (ip) on 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, and 12 days post-TMEV inoculation as induction phase or 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, and 26 days as effector phase. Control animals in each experiment received phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) ip at similar time intervals. Few iNOS- positive cells were observed in the spinal cords of naive SJL/J mice. In the early phase (day 15) of TMEV-IDD, an increase of iNOS-positive cells was detected in the leptomeninges and perivascular space of the spinal cords. The number of iNOS-positive cells was increased and reached its peak on day 60, when histology of the animals showed peak infiltration with inflammatory cells. The clinical course of TMEV-IDD on each day postintracerebral infection was significantly reduced in mice treated with AG in the effector phase, and there was no significant difference between mice treated with AG in induction phase versus those administered PBS. Thus, NO production via iNOS appears to be a pathogenic factor in the effector phase of TMEV-IDD.
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