Newborn (within 24 h after birth), 1-week-old and 6-week-old (adult) rats were inoculated with a Hantaan-related virus (B-1) and attempts were made to isolate the virus from various organs. Virus-specific antigens were detected in various organs of newborn rats. Moreover virus could be isolated from almost all their organs even 25 weeks after infection. In contrast, in rats infected at 6 weeks of age the virus could be isolated from various organs but its concentration decreased progressively with time. The levels of haemagglutination-inhibiting (HI) and neutralizing antibodies to B-1 virus in the sera were measured. In adult rats, HI antibodies were first detected 2 weeks after infection and their titre rose to a maximum after 5 weeks. On the other hand, in newborn rats the levels of antibodies remained low until 5 or 6 weeks after infection and started to increase to a high level more than 9 weeks after infection. Furthermore, in rats infected soon after birth IgM antibodies predominated for a long time and these antibodies also neutralized infectivity at a high level. These data suggest that the induction of a high titre of neutralizing antibodies mainly of the IgM type does not result in virus clearance in new born rats and that cellular immunity may be important for virus clearance .


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