Selective antibody neutralization prevents neuropathogenic lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus from causing paralytic disease in immunocompetent mice

Zongyu Chen, Kehan Li, Raymond R.R. Rowland, Peter G.W. Plagemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neuropathogenic lactate dehydrogenase-elevating viruses (LDV) cytocidally infect anterior horn neurons in C58 and AKR mice via interaction with endogenous murine retroviruses to cause a paralytic disease, age-dependent poliomyelitis (ADPM). The induction of ADPM requires a suppressed host immune system as a result of old age, genetic defects (such as nude mice) or any immunosuppressive treatment. Previous results have shown that the infection of anterior horn neurons by neuropathogenic LDV isolates and the subsequent development of ADPM are prevented by anti-LDV antibodies either induced actively during infection or when passively administered. However, the mechanism of protection was unclear since both neutralizing and non-neutralizing polyclonal antibodies seemed protective, whereas only neutralizing monoclonal antibodies were protective. Furthermore, the protection of motor neurons from infection occurred in the absence of any apparent effect on LDV replication in a subpopulation of macrophages known to be the primary permissive host cells. These paradoxes have now been resolved. We have recently reported that the neuropathogenic LDV isolates contain both neuropathogenic and non-neuropathogenic quasispecies that differ in their ability to establish a high viremia persistent infection. Using biological clones of both neuropathogenic and non-neuropathogenic quasispecies, we now demonstrate that both replicate in the same subpopulation of permissive macrophages, but that the neuropathogenic quasispecies are about 100 times more susceptible to in vitro antibody neutralization than the non-neuropathogenic ones, and that antibodies that neutralize the neuropathogenic but not the non-neuropathogenic quasispecies develop as soon as 7 days after infection with neuropathogenic LDVs and selectively suppress the replication of the neuropathogenic LDVs in vivo in FVB, BALB/c, C57 BL/6 and C58 mice. The previously observed lack of neutralizing effect of early polyclonal anti-LDV antibodies and the apparent ineffective antibody control of LDV replication in macrophages were due to outgrowth of the non-neuropathogenic quasispecies that are also present in the neuropathogenic LDV inoculum and are highly resistant to antibody neutralization. Using cloned neuropathogenic LDV quasispecies, we demonstrate a clear relationship in the development of neutralizing antibodies, replication suppression of the neuropathogenic LDVs and the prevention of ADPM in C58 mice. Our results therefore establish an inseparable relationship between the neuron-protective effect of an antibody and its neutralization of the neuropathogenic LDV quasispecies and explain why neuropathogenic LDVs cause paralytic disease only in immunosuppressed mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-208
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of NeuroVirology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • LDV
  • Neutralizing antibody
  • Paralytic disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Virology


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