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Neuro-Immune Mechanisms in Response to Venezuelan equine encephalitis Virus Infection

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Technical Report

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Uniformed Services University Of The Health Sciences Bethesda United States

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Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus VEE is an emerging pathogen with epizootics and epidemics occurring in the Western Hemisphere. Recent outbreaks in South America have caused significant morbidity and mortality among domesticated livestock and surrounding human communities. VEE pathogenesis is characterized by infection of the central nervous system CNS where the virus targets neurons, resulting in significant neurodegeneration. VEE encephalitis can result in profound neurological deficits or even death. Because of the devastating nature of this disease and the lack of interventional therapies, it is important to understand the intricate details of VEE neuropathogenesis in order to identify targets for treatment to effect a cure. Inflammation has recently been implicated as a component of neurodegeneration. Inflammation in the CNS in response to acute infections is a protective mechanism that attempts to contain and clear neuro-invasive pathogens, however this upregulation of pro inflammatory genes may be deleterious to surrounding neurons. The combined effects of direct infection and inflammation may be additive or synergistic in the amount of injury sustained in the CNS.

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