The presence of five structural proteins of measles virus in brain material obtained at autopsy from four patients with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) was examined by immunofluorescence employing monoclonal antibodies. In addition, the humoral immune response against measles virus antigens in serum and cerebrospinal fluid was analysed by immunoprecipitation in combination with gel electrophoresis, revealing a reduced response mainly to the matrix (M) protein. In none of the brain material were all five structural proteins simultaneously detected. Nucleocapsid protein and phosphoprotein were found in every diseased brain area, whereas haemagglutinin (H) protein was detected in two, fusion (F) protein in three and M protein only in one SSPE case. In two cases, variations in the occurrence of H and F proteins could be observed between regions displaying different degrees of neuropathological changes. No correlation was observed between the humoral immune response and the immunohistological findings. These data support the hypothesis of a restricted synthesis of measles virus proteins, in particular the envelope and M proteins, in SSPE.

Keyword(s): measles virus , polypeptides and SSPE

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