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Immune responses to RNA virus infections of the CNS

RNA viruses that infect the nervous system most often target neurons and are important causes of viral encephalitis. A successful outcome for the host from virus infection of the central nervous system requires the elimination of the virus without damage to these essential non-renewable cells. As a result, inflammatory responses must be tightly controlled and many unique mechanisms contribute to this control. Innate responses are rapidly activated; they control initial virus replication and spread and set the stage for the adaptive immune responses that lead to infiltration of the CNS with B cells, CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells. The outcome of this immune response may be control of virus replication and recovery, but viral RNA often persists. Alternatively, the outcome may be immune-mediated damage and fatal encephalomyelitis.

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Correspondence to Diane E Griffin.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Griffin, D.E. Immune responses to RNA virus infections of the CNS. BMC Proc 2 (Suppl 1), S20 (2008).

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