A sensitive high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) assay was established to analyze levels of the antiretroviral agent 3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine (AZT, zidovudine) in serum, milk and tissue extracts. After methanol precipitation, serum samples could be injected directly into the HPLC apparatus, whereas tissue extracts required further clarification. Recovery of AZT was virtually complete. Isocratic elution with a mobile phase consisting of 6% acetonitrile and 0.1 M ammonium acetate, pH adjusted to 4.5 with glacial acetic acid, resulted in good resolution of AZT and its metabolites; retention times for AZT and the internal standard, p-nitrophenol, were 20 and 37 min, respectively. Using this method, we have demonstrated that AZT crosses both the blood-brain and placental barriers and is excreted into milk at high levels.
To explore how bacteria and their products may modulate viral infection, we investigated the effect of a well-characterized and highly purified product of Bordetella pertussis, a pertussis toxin, also known as lymphocytosis promoting factor (LPF), on enteric reovirus infection. LPF is known to have a variety of effects, including modulation of circulation and homing of lymphoid cells. When adult mice are inoculated with reovirus type 1 perorally, reovirus first enters the Peyer's patches (PP) through M cells, and then spreads to mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN) and spleen with minimal dissemination to other peripheral tissues. In view of the profound effect of LPF on lymphoid tissues, we evaluated whether LPF might influence the early stages of type-1 reovirus infection following peroral inoculation. Pretreatment of adult BALB/c mice with LPF significantly inhibited the spread of reovirus in a manner dependent upon the route of inoculation; LPF inhibited the extra-intestinal spread of virus from PP to MLN after intragastric inoculation; in contrast there was enhancement of the spread of blood-borne viruses to MLN after intravenous inoculation. This result, together with the fact that the efferent lymph from PP reaches MLN, suggests that a proportion of reoviruses were conveyed from PP to MLN in association with lymphoid cells along the lymphatic channels and that LPF affects reovirus, in part, by blocking cell movement.
Retroviruses are involved in several human neurological diseases with varying pathological features. Whether these diseases are due to a direct effect of the virus on nervous system cells is unknown. To gain insight into the pathogenesis of one retroviral neurological disease, we are studying the murine neurotropic retrovirus, Cas-Br-E, which causes lower motor neuron disease associated with spongiform degenerative changes in brain and spinal cord. Central nervous system (CNS) injury seems to be due to direct viral action, but the precise target cells of the virus are uncertain. After blood-borne virus enters the CNS it is found in capillary endothelial cells. No microscopic evidence for virus within glia or neurons has been found in some studies, whereas virus or incomplete particles have been observed in CNS cells in other studies. Here we identify the neuron as a major target for Cas-Br-E in the CNS, suggesting that this disease may be a direct result of viral infection of neurons. We also show that envelope protein (Env, encoded by the env gene), a major determinant of neurovirulence, cannot be detected in neurons but is present in non-neuronal cells, although spliced env messenger RNA is synthesized in CNS tissue. This suggests that a post-transcriptional step in Cas-Br-E Env protein synthesis is impaired and that the neurological disease may be a consequence of abortive replication of virus in neurons. This may explain the failure to find neuronal infection in other neurological diseases by conventional methods of virus detection.
Transgenic mouse strains carrying proviruses were generated by exposing mouse embryos to a recombinant retrovirus. Animals carrying a single provirus were intercrossed to derive mice homozygous for a given proviral insertion. Adult mice homozygous for the Mpv17 integration developed nephrotic syndrome and chronic renal failure. Histologically, affected kidneys showed progressive glomerular sclerosis. Similar lesions are seen in patients with progressive renal function deterioration. A probe to DNA sequences flanking the provirus detected a 1.7 kb RNA ubiquitously expressed during embryogenesis and in adults with high levels in kidney, brain, and heart. This RNA was not detected in tissues of homozygous animals, suggesting that the provirus interferes with RNA expression. Sequence analysis of the cDNA revealed that the gene encodes a 176 amino acid peptide containing hydrophobic regions, suggesting membrane association of the putative protein. The Mpv17 mutant is a potentially useful experimental system for studying mechanisms leading to renal disorders in man.