Research Highlights

JEV unleashes double trouble

Subhra Priyadarshini

doi:10.1038/nindia.2008.241 Published online 14 July 2008

Researchers Sulagna Das (left) and Anirban Basu.

Researchers at the National Brain Research Centre in Manesar, Haryana have shown that the Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) damages the brain in two ways – it not only kills brain cells but prevents the birth of new cells from neural stem/progenitor cells (NPC) thus depleting the NPC pool in the brain.

The 'dual attack' means the virus kills the brain's neurons and also makes sure there is no repair. The study has tried to explore how JEV infection leads to development of long-term cognitive deficits in the survivors. The virus prevents neural stem and progenitor cells in the brain from dividing — it hangs them up, says lead researcher Anirban Basu.

The researchers have hypothesized that depletion of NPCs by the virus culminates in an abnormal secondary neurological condition (sequelae) in survivors. "We utilized both in vivo model of JEV infection and in vitro neurosphere cultures to study progressive JEV infection," Basu says.

Understanding this mechanism would help design better therapeutics against the virus. "This indicates that we might eventually treat this form of neurological and psychiatric problem by either ramping up brain repair or protecting the repair mechanism," he adds.


References

  1. Das, S. et al. Japanese encephalitis virus infects neural progenitor cells and decreases their proliferation. J. Neurochem. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2008.05511.x (2008)