Rabies virus infection is associated with alterations in the expression of parvalbumin and secretagogin in mice brain

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Infection with the deadly rabies virus (RABV) leads to alteration of cellular gene expression. The RABV, similar to other neurodegenerative diseases may be implicated in neuronal death due to an imbalance in Ca2+ homeostasis. Parvalbumin (PV) and Secretagogin (Scgn), two members of the Calcium-Binding Proteins (CBPs) are useful neuronal markers responsible for calcium regulation and buffering with possible protective roles against infections. This study investigated whether infection with rabies virus causes variance in expression levels of PV and Scgn using the Challenge virus standard (CVS) and Nigerian Street Rabies virus (SRV) strains. Forty-eight, 4-week-old BALB/c mice strains were divided into two test groups and challenged with Rabies virus (RABV) infection and one control group. The presence of RABV antigen was verified by direct fluorescent antibody test (DFAT) and real-time quantitative PCR (qRT-PCR) was used to assess PV and Scgn gene expression. Infection with both virus strains resulted in significant (p < 0.05) increases in expression during early infection. Mid-infection phase caused reduced expression for both genes. However, as infection progressed to the terminal phase, a lower increase in expression was measured. Gene expression and viral load correlation indicated no positive relationship. Neurons with these CBPs may have a greater capacity to buffer calcium and be more resistant to degenerative changes caused by RABV. This implies that, when PV and Scgn expression levels are kept adequately high, the integrity of neurons may be maintained and degeneration caused by RABV infection may be prevented or stopped, hence, these are possible constituents of effective rabies therapy.
Rabies virus, Calcium-binding protein, Parvalbumin ., Secretagogin, Gene expression, George C. Korie, Ishaya S. Tekki, ACENTDFB, Ahmadu Bello University
Kanu, B., Kia, G.S.N., Aimola, I.A. et al. Rabies virus infection is associated with alterations in the expression of parvalbumin and secretagogin in mice brain. Metab Brain Dis 36, 1267–1275 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11011-021-00717-4