How West Nile virus triggers memory loss

New York, June 23 (IANS) Opening the door to potential new treatments for West Nile virus infection, researchers have discovered how the most severe forms of the mosquito-borne illness cause memory loss and mood disorders.

Half of patients who survive the most damaging kind of West Nile infection often go on to develop memory loss, learning difficulties, a lack of concentration and irritability. But exactly why this happens has been a mystery until now, the study said.

Alzheimers-lost-memory-17032016-1

Researchers discovered that the virus does not kill off neurons but sparks inflammation that prunes synapses, the connections that carry messages between nerve cells.

“What we found in mice, and later confirmed in humans, is that it’s not the death of cells that causes memory loss, it’s the loss of nerve cell connections,” said study co-author Kenneth Tyler from University of Colorado School of Medicine in the US.

“The viral infection activates microglial cells and complement pathways which are helping to fight the infection but in turn end up destroying synapses,” Tyler noted.

The findings were published in the journal Nature.

The researchers found that mice infected with West Nile had a difficult time negotiating their way out of a maze that healthy mice figured out much faster.

They later discovered that the infected mice suffered significant damage to their synapses.

When the scientists examined brain tissue from humans who had died from West Nile, they found the same phenomenon.

There are currently no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection.

The best way to avoid West Nile is to wear long sleeves, use mosquito repellant and steer clear of standing water. The mosquito that carries the virus is most active at dusk and dawn.

Leave a Reply

Please enter your comment!

The opinions, views, and thoughts expressed by the readers and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of www.mangalorean.com or any employee thereof. www.mangalorean.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the readers. Responsibility for the content of comments belongs to the commenter alone.  

We request the readers to refrain from posting defamatory, inflammatory comments and not indulge in personal attacks. However, it is obligatory on the part of www.mangalorean.com to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments to the concerned authorities upon their request.

Hence we request all our readers to help us to delete comments that do not follow these guidelines by informing us at  info@mangalorean.com. Lets work together to keep the comments clean and worthful, thereby make a difference in the community.

Please enter your name here