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Japanese encephalitis virus causes 'double trouble' to brain
Date:7/7/2008

Japanese encephalitis (JE), commonly known as brain fever, is one of the prevalent mosquito-borne encephalitis in India and entire South East (SE) Asia. Besides resulting in thousand fatalities each year, JE virus (JEV) infection causes prominent neurological sequelae in approximately one-third of the survivors. Even those patients in the good recovery group commonly encounter psychiatric problems, which include mental retardation, learning disabilities, speech and movement disorders and behavioural abnormalities.

Recent research in National Brain Research Center, Manesar, India by Dr. Anirban Basu and his graduate student, Sulagna Das have shown that JE virus damages the brain in two ways, by not only killing brain cells but by preventing the birth of new cells from neural stem/progenitor cells (NPC) and depleting the NPC pool in the brain. "It's a double hit to the brain, the JE virus causes brain injury by killing neurons as well as prevents its repair" lead researcher and the senior author of the work Anirban Basu said in a statement.

The children are more vulnerable targets of this virus, which causes massive neuronal loss in the Central Nervous System. "Children are at a dynamic stage of brain development, hence infection at this stage can have devastating effects on mental functions later in life. Our study has tried to explore how JEV infection leads to development of long-term cognitive deficits in the survivors", says Dr. Anirban Basu who has been working in the neurobiology of JEV infection for the past 4 years. These findings have been published online in a paper in Journal of Neurochemistry for inclusion in a future issue of the journal.

"The breakthrough here is that the JE virus prevents neural stem and progenitor cells in the brain from dividing; it hangs them up," Basu said. "It's the first time that a mosquito-borne virus has ever been shown to affect neural stem cells." The progressive infection in these cells ev
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Contact: Anirban Basu, Ph.D.
anirban@nbrc.ac.in
91-124-233-8922
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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