Toll-like Receptors May be Important in VEE-induced Neurodegneration and Inflammation

A team of scientists from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, or USU, have characterized the expression of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and associated signaling in response to Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) infection.

In an article published in the April 15, 2009 edition of the Journal of General Virology, Drs. Radha Maheshwari, professor of Pathology and Anuj Sharma, at USU, reported the findings regarding the expression kinetics of TLR and associated signaling during VEEV infection of the brain. The results have important implications in better understanding of how VEEV induces inflammation and neurodegeneration in the brain.

VEEV is an emerging pathogen which is highly infectious when delivered by aerosol. It has been developed for use as a bio-weapon. VEEV has caused periodic outbreaks of disease affecting both human and equines. In the last major outbreak of VEEV in 1995, more than 75,000 human cases of VEEV infection were reported. The virus may cause central nervous system (CNS) disease in horses and is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes.

Currently there is no FDA-approved vaccine for VEEV prophylaxis and there are no specific therapies for the treatment of VEEV infection. The current study has important implications towards identifying therapeutic targets for treatment of VEEV infection.

Located on the grounds of Bethesda’s National Naval Medical Center and across from the National Institutes of Health, USU is the nation’s federal school of medicine and graduate school of nursing. The university educates health care professionals dedicated to career service in the Department of Defense and the U.S. Public Health Service. Students are active-duty uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service, who are being educated to deal with wartime casualties, natural disasters, emerging infectious diseases, and other public health emergencies. Of the university’s nearly 4,400 physician alumni and more than 400 advance practice nurses, the vast majority serve on active duty and are supporting operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, offering their leadership and expertise. The University also has graduated more than 600 public health professionals.

For additional information contact Ken Frager in the USU Office of External Affairs at (301) 295-3981 or (240) 281-2738.


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