To elucidate the potential role of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and neuronal constitutive nitric oxide synthase (cNOS) in the pathogenesis of virus-induced encephalopathy, the activities of both NOS isoforms were determined in the brains of rats infected with Borna disease virus (BDV) or rabies virus. iNOS activity strongly increased, whereas neuronal cNOS activity significantly decreased in a time-dependent manner after either BDV or rabies virus infection. Choline acetyltransferase activity in the brain remained unchanged during both virus infections, suggesting that the decrease in cNOS activity does not reflect a generalized neuronal loss. Immunohistochemistry and Northern blot analyses indicate that the decrease in neuronal cNOS activity is due to a decrease in cNOS protein and mRNA synthesis. These results suggest that both an excessive generation of NO by activated macrophages or microglia, as well as a decrease of NO production in neurons may contribute to the neuropathogenesis of neurotropic virus infections.
ASJC Scopus subject areas