Distribution of enterovirus 71 RNA in inflammatory cells infiltrating different tissues in fatal cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease
In previous studies of hand, foot, and mouth disease patients fatally infected with enterovirus 71 (EV71), the distribution of viral protein, but not the genome, was determined. To understand the pathogenesis of EV71, however, it is important to investigate the spread of the viral genome. There have been no pathological studies of in situ EV71 viral RNA in inflammatory cells infiltrating various tissues of fatal cases. We therefore first investigated the distribution and classification of inflammatory cells in various tissues and then performed in situ EV71 RNA hybridization in these tissues to better understand the pathogenesis of EV71 infection. EV71 RNA was found mainly in inflammatory cells infiltrating the central nervous system (CNS), intestines, lungs, and tonsils. Most EV71 RNA-positive inflammatory cells in the CNS were macrophages/microglia and neutrophils infiltrating the perivascular cuffing, microglial nodule, neuronophagia, and meninges. CD68+ macrophages and CD15+ neutrophils were diffusely distributed in tissues with severe pathological changes. This study demonstrates the presence of EV71 RNA in inflammatory cells infiltrating tissues in fatally infected patients. Our findings suggest that fatal EV71 infection with extensive infiltration of macrophages/microglia and neutrophils into the CNS results in severe neurological lesions.