Morphologic, immunologic and virologic data implicating antiviral antibody in promoting entry of canine distemper virus (CDV) into brain and reticuloendothelial tissues are reviewed. Infection of central nervous system (CNS) endothelium precedes invasion of virus-positive and -negative leukocytes into Virchow-Robin spaces and central nervous system (CNS) parenchyma by 1-3 days. Platelets are implicated in initiation of endothelial infection in that: CDV-infected dogs are thrombocytopenic; platelets from CDV-infected dogs contain IgG-virus complexes on their plasma membranes; platelet microthrombi were observed adjacent to foci of endothelial infection, and; CDV-susceptible ferrets rendered thrombocytopenic by antiplatelet antibody exhibit delayed viral entry into CNS tissues. Renal glomerular-bound IgG, IgM and occasionally CDV antigen were demonstrated in CDV-infected dogs by immunocytochemical techniques. Distemper-infected dogs with inherited C3 deficiency exhibited enhanced renal glomerular disease associated chiefly with deposition of IgM in mesengial regions vs. their homozygous normal CDV-infected littermates. Direct infusion of virus-positive leukocytes, plasma and platelets into the CNS capillary bed via the right carotid artery should establish the primacy of each in the initiation of CNS vascular endothelial infection by CDV.
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