Clinical and immunohistochemical studies were done for 3-39 d on mice after intracerebral inoculation with the neurovirulent A/WSN/33 (H1N1; WSN) strain of influenza A virus, the nonneurovirulent A/Aichi/2/68 (H3N2; Aichi) strain, and two reassortant viruses between them. The virus strains with the WSN gene segment coding for neuraminidase induced meningoencephalitis in mice. The mice inoculated with the R96 strain, which has only the neuraminidase gene from the WSN strain, had mild symptoms and weak positive immunostaining to the anti-WSN antibody in meningeal regions. Both the WSN and R404BP strains, which contain the WSN gene segments coding for neuraminidase and matrix protein, were clearly neurovirulent both clinically and pathologically. On day 3 after inoculation with either of these two strains, WSN antigen was detected in meningeal and ependymal areas, neurons of circumventricular regions, the cerebral and cerebellar cortices, the substantia nigra zona compacta, and the ventral tegmental area. On day 7, meningeal reactions and neuronal staining were still seen, and advanced accumulation of the viral antigen was evident in the substantia nigra zona compacta and hippocampus. Double immunostaining demonstrated that the WSN antigen was only seen in neurons and not in microglia or reactive astrocytes. Immunostaining for the lectin maackia amurensis agglutinin, which recognizes the Neu5Ac alpha 2,3 Gal sequence, which serves as a binding site for influenza A virus on target cell membranes, showed that positive staining was localized in the ventral substantia nigra and hippocampus. These results suggest that neurovirulent influenza A viruses could be one of the causative agents for postencephalitic parkinsonism.

This content is only available as a PDF.