The recruitment of peripheral blood leukocytes to the brain is delayed in susceptible BALB/c compared to resistant C57BL/6 mice during herpes simplex virus encephalitis

  • Coraline Canivet
  • Olus Uyar
  • Chantal Rhéaume
  • Jocelyne Piret
  • Guy BoivinEmail author


The cerebral immune response induced by herpes simplex virus (HSV) encephalitis (HSE) was evaluated in susceptible BALB/c and resistant C57BL/6 mice. BALB/c and C57BL/6 (named C57BL/6-high) mice were respectively infected intranasally with 1 × 103 and 5 × 105 plaque-forming units (PFUs) of HSV-1. C57BL/6 mice (named C57BL/6-low) infected with a low inoculum (1 × 103 PFUs) of HSV-1 were tested in parallel. Mice were monitored for weight loss, sickness signs, and survival for 21 days. The viral load, infectious titers, cytokine/chemokine levels, and peripheral leukocyte infiltration were determined in brain homogenates on days 0 (non-infected), 4, 6, and 8 post-infection (p.i.) by qPCR, plaque assay, ELISA/Luminex™, and flow cytometry, respectively. Our results showed that the mortality of BALB/c mice (67%) was higher compared to those of C57BL/6-low (0%; P ≤ 0.01) and C57BL/6-high (20%; P ≤ 0.05) animals. This higher mortality was associated with increased infectious titers and cytokine/chemokine levels in the brains of BALB/c compared to C57BL/6 mice. Recruitment of inflammatory monocytes, dendritic cells, natural killer, and natural killer T cells to the brain was higher in C57BL/6-high compared to BALB/c animals on day 4 p.i. Infiltration of inflammatory monocytes and T cells in the brain of BALB/c mice was seen on day 6 p.i. Our data suggest that a rapid, sustained, and coordinated recruitment of peripheral leukocytes to the brain of C57BL/6-high mice results in an effective control of viral replication and inflammation whereas the delayed infiltration of immune cells in the brain of BALB/c mice was associated with an exacerbated inflammatory response during HSE.


Herpes simplex virus Encephalitis Cerebral inflammation Peripheral leukocyte infiltration C57BL/6 BALB/c 



The authors would like to thank Julie-Christine Levesque from Luminex technology platform of Research Center of the CHU of Quebec-Laval University for assistance in Bio-Plex system and Bio-Plex manager software as well as Alexandre Brunet from Imaging and Cytometry platforms of Research Center of the CHU of Quebec-Laval University for assistance in acquisition of flow cytometry data.

Funding information

This study was supported by a Foundation Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (grant no. 148361 to G.B.). G.B. is the holder of the Canada research chair on emerging viruses and antiviral resistance.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Journal of NeuroVirology, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Coraline Canivet
    • 1
  • Olus Uyar
    • 1
  • Chantal Rhéaume
    • 1
  • Jocelyne Piret
    • 1
  • Guy Boivin
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Research Center in Infectious DiseasesCHU of Quebec and Laval UniversityQuebec CityCanada

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