Coxsackieviral infections have been linked etiologically to multiple diseases. The serotype CB4 is associated with acute pancreatitis and autoimmune type 1 diabetes. To delineate the mechanisms of host survival after an acute infection with CB4 (strain E2), we have investigated the role of nitric oxide (NO), generated by the inducible form of nitric oxide synthase (NOS2), in viral clearance and pancreatic β-cell maintenance. Mice deficient in NOS2 (NOS2-/-mice) and their wild-type (wt) counterparts were injected with CB4, after which both groups developed severe pancreatitis, hepatitis, and hypoglycemia within 3 days. Within 4 to 7 days postinfection (p.l.), most of the NOS2-/-mice died and at a strikingly higher mortality rate than wt mice. Histological examination of pancreata from both infected NOS2-/-and infected wt mice revealed early and complete destruction of the pancreatic acinar tissue, but intact, insulin-stained islets. When examined up to 8 weeks p.i., neither surviving NOS2-/-mice nor surviving wt mice developed hyperglycemia. However, the clearance of infectious CB4 was different between the mice. The spleens of NOS2-/-survivors were cleared of infectious virus with kinetics similar to that of wt mice, but the livers, pancreata, kidneys, and hearts of the NOS2-/-groups cleared virus more slowly than those of the wt group. This delayed clearance was particularly prominent in the rivers of infected NOS2-/-mice, which also showed prolonged histopathological features of viral hepatitis. Taken together, this outcome suggests that NOS2 (and NO) is not required for the prevention of pancreatic β-cell depletion after CB4 infection. Instead the critical actions of NOS2 apparently occur early in the host immune response, allowing mice to survive and clear virus. Moreover, the data support the existence of an organ-specific dependency on NO for a rapid clearance of CB4.
- Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
- Nitric oxide
- Nitric oxide synthase
- Pancreatic β-cell
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