Semliki forest virus infection of laboratory mice: a model to study the pathogenesis of viral encephalitis

J K Fazakerley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Semliki Forest virus (SFV) infection of the laboratory mouse provides an experimental system to study the pathogenesis of viral encephalitis. Following extraneural inoculation the virus is efficiently neuroinvasive and crosses the blood-brain barrier to initiate perivascular foci of infection in neurons and oligodendrocytes. The outcome of infection ranges from clinically unapparent mild encephalitis to fatal panencephalitis. SFV infections of the developing nervous system are always highly destructive and are generally fatal. In contrast, SFV infections of the mature nervous system can result in persistent infection with no apparent cell loss. This dramatic difference is attributable to developmental changes in the interactions between virus and CNS cells. Antibody responses clear the systemic infection and control the CNS infection. CD8+ T-cells are required to generate the lesions of inflammatory demyelination which can be a feature of the neuropathology. This article reviews the pathogenesis of SFV encephalitis, describing the neuropathology and the mechanisms which underlie it and which may be fundamental to many viral encephalitides.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-90
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of virology. Supplementum
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Alphavirus Infections
  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System Diseases
  • Culicidae
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Encephalitis, Viral
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Semliki forest virus
  • Virus Replication


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