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August 1970

Subacute Sclerosing PanencephalitisEncephalitis in Hamsters Produced by Viral Agents Isolated From Human Brain Cells

Author Affiliations

From the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology (Drs. Lehrich, Katz, Barbanti-Brodano, and Koprowski); Department of Neurology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (Dr. Lehrich); Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania (Dr. Katz); and Department of Neuropathology, Philadelphia General Hospital (Dr. Rorke), Philadelphia.

Arch Neurol. 1970;23(2):97-102. doi:10.1001/archneur.1970.00480260003001

ALTHOUGH a viral etiology for subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) was first postulated by Dawson1 in 1933, the isolation of measles-like viruses from brain cell cultures established from biopsies of SSPE patients has been a recent accomplishment.2-4

The SSPE agents, either present in brain biopsies of patients or isolated from their brain tissue maintained in culture, have been found to be pathogenic for ferrets,5,6 with encephalitis becoming manifest after a prolonged incubation period. Because of the difficulties involved in handling ferrets and the excessive costs of their maintenance, a search became necessary for another experimental host—an animal at least as susceptible as the ferret to SSPE infection, but easier to handle and less costly to maintain.

The present study shows that the hamster meets these criteria; intracerebral inoculation of hamsters with human brain culture cells carrying the SSPE agents, or with cell-free SSPE virus, produces encephalitis.

Materials and 

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