Virus causes mental illness symptoms in mice

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Virus causes mental illness symptoms in mice

Slowly the truth behind mental illness emerges..

 http://www.newscientist.com...

22:00 07 July 03

NewScientist.com news service

A single viral protein causes behavioural changes in mice similar to those experienced by people with mental illness, reveals a study by Japanese researchers

The effects of the protein, produced by a common pathogen called the Borna disease virus (BDV), may help scientists understand how viruses could contribute to psychiatric disease in humans.

Viruses like BDV, influenza and HIV are suspected of playing a role in the development of psychiatric disorders, but so far no specific link has been shown. While one in three healthy people are infected with BDV - which attacks the central nervous system nearly 100 per cent of people with severe mood disorders have the virus, found a study in 2001. Animal models have revealed a more direct link between viruses and altered behaviour - mice infected with different viruses develop hyperactivity and cognitive deficits.

Keizo Tomonaga and colleagues at Osaka University in Japan inserted a gene for a single protein produced by BDV into mouse embryos. Mice which grew up to express the viral protein in their brains were more aggressive and hyperactive compared with normal mice - much like mice with traditional BDV infection, says the team.


Only glial cells expressed the BDV protein. These non-neuronal cells are involved in forming and maintaining nerve junctions in the brain. That suggests the protein alters behaviour by affecting the function of these cells, says Tomonaga.

Major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia are also characterised by the dysfunction of these special support cells.

"Our results suggest that viral infection may play a role in the development of neurobehavioural dysfunctions," says the team. "Although the role of BDV infection in the induction of psychiatric disorders remains controversial, this work should promote further investigation regarding this question." Ian Lipkin, an epidemiologist at Columbia University in New York, believes the mouse findings will be helpful if the results of a large scale epidemiological study due out in December, 2003 confirms the suggested link between schizophrenia and BDV. However, he adds that most human studies linking virus and disease have found that infection must occur at a specific point in development to have behavioural consequences. In the Tomonaga¹s study, the protein was expressed throughout development, which could be a problem in pinpointing the mechanism, he says.
By netchicken: posted on 15-7-2003

I hope they find what causes it because I sure as hell don't want it to ever happen to me. It was speculated a long time ago ( not sure where ) that cancer is virus related.
By cazza: posted on 8-11-2003

I just did a google search on Cancer and virus and this is the upshot.

 http://www.bupa.co.uk/healt...
By cazza: posted on 8-11-2003








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