Single administrations of poly C or poly I are anti-viral against infections of encephalomyocarditis (EMC) and Semliki Forest virus (SFV) in mice but poly U and poly A are not. The degree of protection is dose-dependent and mice which die do so at a later time than untreated controls even in a strain of mouse in which the time of death is not dependent on the dose of virus given. No circulating interferon is found after treating mice with poly C or poly I even at polynucleotide doses which give the same degree of protection as the interferon inducer, poly I:C. Several additional features distinguish the protection by poly C and poly I from interferon induction: the effect is low 24 h before infection and maximal 6 h before infection, the effect is short-lived and mice do not show hypo-reactivation to repeated treatment. Limited treatment of mice with poly I:C, interferon or poly C before infection itself results in additional protection when poly C is also administered after infection, indicating that poly C has an effect after onset of virus replication. After infection poly C and poly I are both more effective by the intravenous route but before infection they are most effective when administered by the same route as the virus. Quantitative comparisons of the protective effects of poly C, poly I and the interferon inducer, poly I:C, are possible from dose response curves of the polynucleotides at different times relative to infection and by different routes of administration. The results are considered in relation to the presence of homopolyribonucleotide tracts in the viral genomes and effects on the reticulo-endothelial system of the mice.


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