Research Article

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis: detection of measles virus RNA in appendix lymphoid tissue before clinical signs.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 293 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.293.6546.523 (Published 30 August 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;293:523
  1. J G Fournier,
  2. P Lebon,
  3. M Bouteille,
  4. F Goutieres,
  5. S Rozenblatt

    Abstract

    An appendix removed 15 days before onset of symptoms of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis was examined retrospectively for measles virus ribonucleic acid (RNA). Tissue sections hybridised in situ to a cloned measles virus probe of deoxyribonucleic acid specific for nucleocapsid protein showed that many cells of the lymphoid tissue contained measles virus RNA. In contrast, only a few infected lymphoid cells were detected in three out of six seropositive controls and none in three seronegative infants. A widespread chronic viral infection of the immune system, established after measles, may promote or even initiate nerve cell infection in subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.