Friday, 23 February 2018

Zika Has Not Disappeared And It's Still Causing Nerve Damage (But Not In The Way You Thought)

Today's post from (see link below) may be short but as is often the case with articles from, it packs important information into a small package. The Zika virus may have dropped off the front pages these days but that doesn't mean that it has gone away is still causing neuropathy. What's new in this article is that scientists have discovered that it's probably not the virus itself that causes nerve damage and paralysis but the body's own immune response to being attacked. This may open the way for new discoveries and implications about neuropathic problems being linked not to the cause (in this case Zika) but to the immune system's response to whatever the cause may be. Apparently, when an infection invades the body, immune cells known as CD8 T cells flood the brain in order to trigger a sort of 'shut-down' paralysis, while at the same time, tackling the virus or infection. Fascinating idea that may lead to different approaches to neuropathy treatment. Well worth a read.

Zika-related nerve damage caused by immune response to the virus 
Date:November 20, 2017 Source:Yale University

Spinal cord of a mouse model seven days after infection with Zika virus, which is stained green.
Credit: Image courtesy of Yale University

The immune system's response to the Zika virus, rather than the virus itself, may be responsible for nerve-related complications of infection, according to a Yale study. This insight could lead to new ways of treating patients with Zika-related complications, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, the researchers said.

In mice models lacking a key antiviral response, infection with Zika virus causes paralysis and death. To understand the mechanism, a research team led by immunobiologist Akiko Iwasaki examined the spread of infection in these mice.

The research team found that when the Zika infection spreads from the circulating blood into the brain, immune cells known as CD8 T cells flood the brain. While these T cells sharply limit the infection of nerve cells, they also trigger Zika-related paralysis, the researchers said.

"The immune cells that are generated by infection start attacking our own neurons," Iwasaki said. "The damage is not occurring through the virus infection, but rather the immune response to the virus."

Immune-mediated nerve damage underlies Guillen-Barré syndrome, which affects some people infected with the Zika virus. The study findings suggest that suppressing the immune response might be an approach to treating the syndrome, which causes weakness, tingling, and, in rare cases, paralysis.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Yale University. Original written by Ziba Kashef. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Kellie A. Jurado, Laura J. Yockey, Patrick W. Wong, Sarah Lee, Anita J. Huttner, Akiko Iwasaki. Antiviral CD8 T cells induce Zika-virus-associated paralysis in mice. Nature Microbiology, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/s41564-017-0060-z

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