Impaired long-chain fatty acid metabolism in mitochondria causes brain vascular invasion by a non-neurotropic epidemic influenza A virus in the newborn/suckling period: implications for influenza-associated encephalopathy.

Research paper by Dengfu D Yao, Masamichi M Kuwajima, Ye Y Chen, Mayumi M Shiota, Yuushi Y Okumura, Hiroshi H Yamada, Hiroshi H Kido

Indexed on: 10 Aug '06Published on: 10 Aug '06Published in: Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry


The neuropathogenesis of influenza-associated encephalopathy in children and Reye's syndrome remains unclear. A surveillance effort conducted during 2000-2003 in South-West Japan reveals that almost all fatal and handicapped influenza-associated encephalopathy patients exhibit a disorder of mitochondrial beta-oxidation with elevated serum acylcarnitine ratios (C(16:0)+C(18:1))/C(2). Here we show invasion by a non-neurotropic epidemic influenza A H3N2 virus in cerebral capillaries with progressive brain edema after intranasal infection of mice having impaired mitochondrial beta-oxidation congenitally or posteriorly in the newborn/ suckling periods. Mice genetically lacking of carnitine transporter OCTN2, resulting in carnitine deficiency and impaired beta-oxidation, exhibited significant higher virus-genome numbers in the brain, accumulation of virus antigen exclusively in the cerebral capillaries and increased brain vascular permeability compared to in wild type mice. Mini-plasmin, which proteolytically potentiates influenza virus multiplication in vivo and destroys the blood-brain barrier, accumulated with virus antigen in the brain capillaries of OCTN2-deficient mice but only a little in wild-type mice. These results suggest that the impaired mitochondrial beta-oxidation changes the susceptibility to a non-neurotropic influenza A virus as to multiplication in the brain capillaries and to cause brain edema. These pathological findings in the brain of mice having impaired mitochondrial beta-oxidation after influenza virus infection may have implications for human influenza-associated encephalopathy.