The effects of psychological stress on an animal model of multiple sclerosis, Theiler's virus induced demyelination
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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common demyelinating condition of the central nervous system (CNS), resulting in paralysis and death. The etiology of MS is unknown. However, genetics, exposure to a pathogen, psychological stress and gender are all implicated in the onset and progression of the disease. An animal model of MS, Theilers virus (TMEV) infection, causes a biphasic disease. An early CNS viral infection, if allowed to persist within the CNS, is followed by a chronic CNS autoimmune demyelinating condition that is similar to MS. The development of Theilers Virus Induced Demyelination (TVID) is under genetic control: SJL mice are highly susceptible to viral persistence and TVID while CBA mice have an intermediate susceptibility. Chronic restraint stress (RST) administered during the first four weeks of TMEV infection influenced the subsequent development of TVID differentially across strain and sex of mice. TVID was exacerbated by RST in male and female SJL mice, but in the CBA strain, TVID was alleviated by RST in male mice only. This pattern of results in SJL and CBA mice could be seen in the chronic phase of TVID on multiple dependent measures: body weights, behavioral signs of the chronic phase, rotarod performance (an automated measure of motor abilities), and inflammation, demyelination, and axonal loss within the spinal cord. The exacerbation of TVID in SJL mice provides some of the first experimental evidence that coincides with reports of stress precipitating the onset of MS in human patients. The sex dependent alleviation of TVID in CBA mice illustrates the complex interaction between genetic predisposition, gender, stress, and exposure to a pathogen that has been proposed for the development of MS.
Sieve, Amy Nicole (2004). The effects of psychological stress on an animal model of multiple sclerosis, Theiler's virus induced demyelination. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from