Caister Academic Press

Encephalitic Alphaviruses

Clive S. McKimmie and John K. Fazakerley
from: Alphaviruses: Current Biology (Edited by: Suresh Mahalingam, Lara Herrero and Belinda Herring). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2016) Pages: 139-156.


Alphaviruses are a group of medically important viruses spread by arthropods. Recent years has witnessed an increase in their geographic range and the number of infections. Following inoculation by infected arthropods, alphaviruses rapidly replicate in peripheral tissues, giving rise to a high titre plasma viremia. In the majority of cases this results is an otherwise asymptomatic infection, but in some can progress to life-threatening encephalitis. Well-characterised animal models have demonstrated that virus spreads to the brain, primarily infecting neurons, often as perivascular foci of infection. Virus infection of neural tissue triggers an influx of inflammatory mediators that, depending on a combination of virus and host factors, results in either death or clearance of infectious virus by neutralising high affinity immunoglobulins. Following clearance of brain virus, lesions of T cell-driven demyelinating inflammation can result. In the absence of efficacious vaccines or specific medical treatments for alphavirus infection, a better understanding of its pathogenesis will aid the design of novel therapies read more ...
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