Cortical cholinergic decline parallels the progression of Borna virus encephalitis

Ursula Gies, Tamás J. Görcs, Jan Mulder, Oliver Planz, Lothar Stitz, Thomas Bilzer, Paul G.M. Luiten, Tibor Harkany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


Borna disease virus (BDV)-induced meningoencephalitis is associated with the dysfunction of the cholinergic system. Temporal development of this cholinergic decline during pre-encephalitic and encephalitic stages of BDV infection remains however elusive. Changes in choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activities were therefore determined in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, striatum, amygdala and cholinergic basal forebrain nuclei (ChBFN) of rats infected with BDV. Immunocytochemistry for ChAT and vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) was employed to identify morphological consequences of BDV infection on cholinergic neurons. Whereas both ChAT and AChE activities changed only slightly under pre-encephalitic conditions, the encephalitic stage was characterized by a significant decrease of ChAT activity in the cerebral cortex, horizontal diagonal band of Broca (hDBB), hippocampus and amygdala concomitant with a marked reduction of AChE activity in the cerebral cortex, hDBB and hippocampus. The striatum and medial septum remained unaffected. ChAT and VAChT immunocytochemistry revealed prominent axonal degeneration in affected cortical and limbic projection areas of ChBFN. In summary, our data indicate progressive deterioration of forebrain cholinergic systems that parallels the progression of BDV encephalitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3767-3772
Number of pages6
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Dec 4 2001



  • Borna disease virus
  • Cholinergic system
  • Encephalitis
  • Inflammation
  • Neurodegeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Gies, U., Görcs, T. J., Mulder, J., Planz, O., Stitz, L., Bilzer, T., Luiten, P. G. M., & Harkany, T. (2001). Cortical cholinergic decline parallels the progression of Borna virus encephalitis. Neuroreport, 12(17), 3767-3772.