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J Neurochem. 2008 Aug;106(4):1624-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2008.05511.x. Epub 2008 Jun 7.

Japanese encephalitis virus infects neural progenitor cells and decreases their proliferation.

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National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, Haryana, India.


Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), a common cause of encephalitis in humans, especially in children, leads to substantial neuronal injury. The survivors of JEV infection have severe cognitive impairment, motor and behavioral disorders. We hypothesize that depletion of neural progenitor cells (NPCs) by the virus culminates in neurological sequelae in survivors of Japanese encephalitis (JE). We utilized both in vivo model of JEV infection and in vitro neurosphere cultures to study progressive JEV infection. Cellular infection and cell death was determined by flow cytometry. BrdU administration in animals and in neurospheres was used to determine the proliferative ability of NPCs. JEV leads to massive loss of actively proliferating NPC population from the subventricular zone (SVZ). The ability of JEV infected subventricular zone cells to form neurospheres is severely compromised. This can be attributed to JEV infection in NPCs, which however do not result in robust death of the resilient NPC cells. Instead, JEV suppresses the cycling ability of these cells, preventing their proliferation. JEV primarily targets at a critical postnatal age and severely diminishes the NPC pool in SVZ, thus impairing the process of recovery after the insult. This arrested growth and proliferation of NPCs might have an effect on the neurological consequences in JE survivors.

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